First was my friend Lisa, who is a nurse and nutritionist specializing in "intuative eating." She has a post on her site/blog about her homemmade ganola bars http://lisakutzing.com/thinking-outside-the-box-simple-and-delicious-homemade-granola-bars/. She got me thinking again about granola bars...mmmm!
The second is my husband, who recently cleaned up his diet and cut out gluten and dairy in an attempt to deal with some persistent allergy symptoms. He is crazy busy and often eats on the run but wanted some healthy options to take with him. The price tag on store bought granola bars that are vegan and gluten free and still delicious while not filled with sketchy filler ingredients is too rich for my blood. So my husband got me thinking about less expensive, delicious, vegan (or nearly vegan), and gluten free granola bar options.
Third came the heat. It is crazy hot here right now and we do not have air conditioning. Turning on the oven in this weather is not only irresponsible from an energy consumption standpoint, it's also a totally sadistic move since it makes our house unbearably hot. So the heat got me thinking about no-bake granola bar options.
Put those all together and you end up with what I've got sitting in my kitchen right now:
They came out perfectly! My husband and my 20-month old daughter LOVE them. Thankfully they are super easy to make because they both eat them up within a few days.
I used a ton of differenct nuts and dried fruits just because I had them on hand and I wanted them to be chalked full of goodness. You could easily decrease the variety by cutting out a few of the nuts and dried fruit options and increasing the volume of whichever nuts/fruit you have on hand. Also, the ingredients are pretty forgiving- I am not at all diligent about my measuents.
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup cashew pieces (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup walnut pieces (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 Tbsp chia seeds
1-2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1-2 Tbsp flax seeds
1/4 cup dried coconut flakes
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 tsp. sea salt (I like Maldons)
2 Tbsp black strap molasses
1/2 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup apricots
1 cup dried figs
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup pitted dried dates
Put the first set of ingredients (nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, & dried blue berries, salt) in a large mixing bowl. Combine the second set (molasses, honey, coconut oil) in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until it is all melted and combined together. Turn the heat all the way down or even off for a few minutes.
Combine the last set of ingredients (another round of nuts and dried fruit) into a food processor. Pulse several times until very finely chopped and it becomes tacky (if you squeezed it between your fingers it should stick together).
Pour that into the first set of (dry) ingredients that have been waiting in the large mixing bowl. Stir to combine them and add in the melted ingredients from the saucepan. Give it all a few more good stirs to combine. Layer two pieces of parchment paper in "t" shape in a 9"x13" baking dish (the ends should hang out of the baking dish to help you pull the bars out later without breaking). Pour the whole sticky mess into the baking dish and press it down firmly with a spoon until it's flat. Then use the bottom of a glass measuring cup or anything kind of heavy to pat it all down as compact as you can get it.
Pop the whole thing in the freezer and let it set for about 30 minutes to an hour. Remove from the freezer and use the edges of the parchment paper to pull the granola bars out of baking pan. Cut them into 2" x 4" bars using a sharp knife. Store in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.
* Because these are no-bake and they have no butter or flour in them, they will fall apart at room temperature. I suggest leaving them in a cold spot until you're ready to eat them.