Growing up (how is it that food always connects us to our past so strongly?) I loved granola bars. The kind with nuts, seeds and oats all bound together with honey. The kind that powered me through my school day. They were so 'morish', one usually wasn't enough.
Mum's granola bars were always the best. I especially loved the smell of them baking in the oven, scents of warm honey, cinnamon, and roasting nuts wafting through the house.
Seeking a healthy snack for myself and my little one, I decided to invent a recipe for a tasty, energy-filled bar. There were a few criteria that this recipe needed to meet if I was to be happy with it. After all, I want to feed this bar to myself and my family knowing full-well that they are benefitting our health, and I also want to make them regularly, not as an occasional treat.
It needed to be high in heart healthy fats and protein (nuts & seeds, nut butter) - to provide energy & micronutrients, & to sustain.
It needed to include some (inexpensive) carbohydrates (oats and puffed millet) - to mitigate the cost of ingredients, and provide energy for busy bodies.
It needed just the right amount of a low-fructose sweetener, and not too much dried fruit - to prevent spiking blood sugar levels, so that they aren't ACTUALLY addictive, but still stick together well and taste delicious.
While recipe testing, I also learned the secret to cutting the bars so they wont crumble. I have included this secret in the method, so read the recipe carefully to make sure you don't miss out!
After much trial, here is the final recipe. There are a few substitutions that you can make, depending on your personal preferences. Read the notes to find out what swaps are possible.
Super Nut Granola Bars
Makes approximately 18 bars / GF, SF
Ingredients (use organic where possible)
1+1/4 C rolled oats (certified gluten-free if coeliac)
3/4C desiccated coconut
3/4C puffed millet (or puffed rice, amaranth, or quinoa)
1/2C raw almonds, diced finely (by hand or give them a quick blitz in a food processor)
1/4C diced dried apricots (or other dried fruit, diced if necessary)
1/4C pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds OR more dried fruit)
2T chia seeds
1/2C nut butter (I used Super Butter)
1/2C rice malt syrup (or honey)
Generous 1/4C coconut oil
2t ground cinnamon
Pinch flakey sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a slice pan generously with coconut oil (approximately 26 x 16cm).
2. In a pot, over a low heat, gently melt the rice malt syrup, nut butter, and coconut oil. Stir occasionally.
3. Keeping your eye on the melting ingredients on the stove, put all other ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine evenly.
4. When wet ingredients have melted together, stir quickly and pour onto the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Sometimes I put the wooden spoon down and get in there with my hands!
5. Scoop mixture into the prepared tin, and with damp, clean hands, press mixture down firmly and evenly. Note: make sure you press down VERY firmly - this will help the bars to stick together while they bake.
6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the still-warm granola slice into bars *while still in the pan.* Do not worry if the cuts are not completely sliced through to the bottom. You will finish slicing them later.
8. Leave to cool completely in the pan.
9. Then, place a chopping board on top of the pan. Flip the two over together, so that the pan is now upside-down on the board. Lift off the pan, leaving the bars there upside-down.
10. Now use your knife to complete cutting and shaping the bars. This should be easy now, with minimal waste and lovely rectangular shapes!
11. Store bars in an airtight container for one week. May also be frozen.