I’ve been on an oat and flax kick lately — making lots of granola, oatmeal and those no-bake energy balls that you see all over Pinterest. I’ve also played around with some granola bars, including the cherry almond ones that I made a month or so ago. They were delicious, but it’s hard for me to just keep making the same thing over and over, no matter how tasty it is.
So it should come as no surprise that when I saw a recipe in Food & Wine for Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars, I decided to give them a go. And if you’ve been reading my blog at all, it should also not come as a surprise that I made some changes to the recipe.
I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds, but I had a ton of sunflower seeds — hey, a seed’s a seed right? I also used almonds instead of pecans and switched out most of the butter for coconut oil. I also cut back on some of the brown sugar and honey — after all, I was looking for a healthy treat not a candy bar.
While these changes certainly altered the flavor of the finished product, I was trying out the recipe mainly to see how the bars turned out in terms of chewiness and sturdiness. The main difference between this recipe and the one I made last time is that the bars are not baked.
Instead, you start by toasting the oats, nuts and seeds (flax and sunflower) until fragrant.
Pour into a large bowl.
Then heat up a combination of honey, butter (or coconut oil) and brown sugar until it boils. Once a sticky caramel sauce forms, pour over the oat mixture. Stir until well combined, add in some dried fruit, stir again and that’s it!
Scrape the concoction into a lined baking dish (mine was about 9×9) and use a second piece of parchment paper to press it down firmly. Let it sit for a couple of hours before cutting it into bars.
These were pretty delicious and in fact they tasted exactly like these store-bought granola bars. The best thing about these bars was that it was nice to not have to work hard to sneak just a bite when I was hungry — tearing off a little chuck was easy. There’s also the ease factor — these took 10-15 minutes tops to put together and they lasted more than 10 days without getting stale. That’s pretty awesome.
The cons are fairly insignificant in the scheme of things. They were still a tad too sweet, I might cut back even more on the sugar next time. They sweetness also made them pretty sticky — especially towards the end of their shelf life. And weren’t incredibly sturdy — I would definitely put them in a container if I was taking them camping or hiking.
But for a daily dose of nuts, seeds and fiber, they worked out brilliantly. I’ll most certainly be making these again in the near future — with more tinkering, of course…
Since I did take a few liberties, here’s my recipe:
Chew-a-licious Granola Bars
- 1 cup silvered almonds
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup flaxseeds (next time, I’m using flaxseed meal!)
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 TB coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups Rice Krispies
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the nuts, oats, and seeds on the sheet and bake about 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, butter, coconut oil and salt to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved and a light brown caramel forms, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
3. Drizzle the caramel all over the nut-and-oat mixture. Stir in the Rice Krispies and cranberries until evenly coated.