I was pondering what to make for my client gifts this year...I knew I wanted to make something and wanted it to be healthy—there are enough sweets and extra calories being consumed around this time of year. One of my girlfriends suggested granola...now, I don't really like granola, but it definitely does make for a nice gift. My first issue was that I have never made granola and my second issue with this choice was the packaging, so I figured I would go one step ahead in my culinary feat by doing granola bars...you know, to make it just a bit more complicated. :)
I began my search with vegan granola bars, gluten free granola bars and cacao granola bars. Lots of these recipes call for different natural sugars, which is fine and sometimes necessary for the binding of ingredients, but I finally stumbled upon a bar that had no added sugar! Score! In the meantime, I had emailed myself four different recipes and proceeded to spend over 100 dollars in ingredients that I might use. Ugh. I have enough nuts and seeds to feed myself through another Sandy blackout. I figured I would just mix and match the recipes (NOTE: not a good idea when you haven't already made the recipe). Once I got home, I realized that I was being crazy, and decided on the simple recipe I found with a base of banana and almond butter.
The bars were super easy to make and required very little culinary skills, so I recommend this for anyone who wants to make something new as a snack for you yourself, family or even as a gift. I've given out many bars so far and have heard good reviews, so I'm gonna give myself a 9/10 and say they were a success. Remember, when making your own, you can swap out the nuts, seeds and fruit and kind of play with the recipe as you see fit—I made them a bit differently the second time around and both batches turned out nicely.
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
1/2 cup almond butter
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup whole almonds
3/4 cup dried apricots or mixture of dried fruit of your choice
½ T of cacao powder
½ T ground flaxseed
½ T ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or whatever you have on hand)
1 cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350F. Line wide loaf tin or pyrex dish with parchment paper.
In a small pot, heat almond butter and mashed bananas on low. Stir gently until well combined. Set aside.
In a food processor, coarse chop the almonds and dried fruit (I found that with both nuts and fruit in the processor, that it didn't chop up properly, so I did them separately). Transfer to a bowl. Mix in cacao, flaxseed, cinnamon, seeds and oats. Fold in the almond butter mixture. Press the batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool for a couple hours before cutting into bars/squares. After about 30 minutes, I took the bars out and set on a cutting board to cool, then waited another hour or so.