It is that time of year when we need to start thinking about packing those lunches and coming up with some creative after school snacks. Something that is a top priority in all of that is providing nutritious and gratifying options. A snack is really useless if after all is said and done, we feel no different than before we ate it.
Granola bars are an easy item to grab off of those store shelves. But when you read the list of ingredients, the majority of what you read is hardly identifiable. It kind of reminds me of that Rob Thomas song "I Am An Illusion". Some words to that song are, "I'm not real anymore, I am an illusion." How fitting. Most people associate granola bars as a healthy option. Any they certainly can be if the right ingredients are used. You can find some viable options at the grocery store, but even better than that, you can make them yourself!
Some things that excite me about this recipe are you don't need your oven, it involves 15 minutes of prep work, it can be made dairy and/or gluten-free, it's versatile, and extremely satisfying. After one granola bar you will conquer your hunger cravings. I have found that using quick oats work best since there is no baking involved. But if you only have old fashioned rolled oats on hand, there are a couple of things you can do to make those work. You can either pulse them down a bit in your food processor, or you could bake them in your oven at 350° for about 15 minutes to lightly toast them. Of course that option would involve turning on your oven :)
The granola bars should be stored in your refrigerator until ready to be eaten. They can last up to two weeks. You could also individually wrap them and keep them in your freezer for storing for longer periods.
2 cups gluten free quick oats
1 cup slivered almonds (raw or roasted, your preference)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chips
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup organic creamy almond butter
1/2 cup coconut cream concentrate (coconut butter), softened
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper so that you have one strip going in each direction, long enough so the parchment paper goes up the sides of the pan. This makes it easy to pull out the bars after you slice them.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, sea salt, and chocolate chips.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter, coconut cream concentrate, honey, and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined. Note- you will need to soften the coconut cream concentrate and perhaps the almond butter. You can do that in a small saucepan but do not get the ingredients too hot. Just warm enough to stir smoothly.
4. Combine your wet and dry ingredients. You may want to use your hands for this so you can ensure all ingredients are coated well.
5. Then spoon your mixture into your 8x8 pan. Using your hands, firmly press down on the mixture making sure it is as even as possible and packed down.
6. Cover the pan and place it in your refrigerator for a minimum of two hours to overnight. Once your bars have firmed up, use a sharp knife to cut them into bars. You can cut them into 10-12 bars, depending on how large you want them. With 3 guys in the house, I cut them into 10. But for small children, 12 bars would be better as they are a good portion.
7. Once you cut your bars, pull them out by lifting the sides of the parchment paper. Eat immediately or store them in your refrigerator or freezer.