Home again with a sick Sophia…
Today consisted of us watching a marathon of Cake Wars and Junior Baking Challenges, and I loved it. It’s so fun to me that the kids enjoy watching reality kitchen shows…it’s like a super win-win for me because I love having it on in the background anyway, but I also love that they are actually interested in wanting to learn more.
So these bars…
They were inspired by a variety of Kashi bars that I used to buy as a snack when I was teaching. It was a quick and easy thing for me to grab for some protein in the morning when I needed a little boost, and they were pretty. There were these huge chunks of almonds and then bright red cranberries (or cherries? I don’t remember now) all throughout the bars…crunchy and slightly sweet and very satisfying. When I went to make these bars, I literally just grabbed all of the seeds I had in the house, and then some almonds and cranberries to mimic those Kashi bars I used to get. A few months back while I was shopping at Costco, I came across a bag of hemp hearts. I had never used them before and so of course had to buy them and find some way to incorporate them into my kitchen. They pack a nice combo of omega-3 and 6’s as well as plenty more nutritional values, and these bars seemed like the perfect place to start with them. And so I did.
I toasted all of the nuts and seeds with the oatmeal first to add a bit of nutty flavor to the mix, then added both cranberries and dates along with the nut butter spread. I’ve used both almond butter and peanut butter in the past when making these bars, and I do like the peanut butter version better myself, but both work fine. It’s just your preference. Peanut butter is a little saltier to me and I love my salt so that’s just what I go with. The dates add a sweetness factor so not much additional sugar is needed, but again, it’s your preference.
Chilling the bars after pressing them down helps everything to stay together, but use a very sharp knife when cutting to help them keep their shape. You can cut them into bars or just break them apart and make them into what almost become like granola chunks. These are great for a quick pick-me-up snack or an after workout recovery! ENJOY!
Toasted Granola Bars with Power Seeds
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
- 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup hemp hearts
- 1/2 cup pitted,chopped dates
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2/3 cup natural smooth peanut or almond butter
- 1 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 by 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray lightly with cooking spray.
- On a large, rimmed baking sheet, spread out the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepita seeds, sesame seeds and hemp hearts and bake for 15-20 minutes until toasty and fragrant. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
- Once cooled, place the toasted mix in a large bowl and stir in the dates and cranberries. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, stir together the peanut or almond butter, honey, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until slowly bubbling. Pour the sauce over the fruit and nut mixture and use a spatula to fold it all together to make sure everything is evenly coated.
- Press mixture down evenly into the prepared pan and chill for 40 minutes before cutting into bars or chunks of desired size. ENJOY!