Leggo. These bars are pretty quick to whip up. They’re [mostly] naturally sweetened and full of healthy fats, fiber and [gluten free!] carbs. Because they’re a little low on protein, I’ve been eating these as a bedtime snack. Well, my plan has been to eat them as a bedtime snack. Yesterday I ate 3, but we’re moving on from that. These bars have 8 ingredients. For funzies, let’s take a look at the first 8 ingredients listed in an undisclosed, big brand granola bar:
Whole grain oats, brown sugar, rice flour, sugar, salt, malted barley extract, whole grain wheat, soybean oil. Hmm that didn’t get us very far. There are 24 more ingredients. Oh well, you get the point. These snack/granola/dessert bars are mostly sweetened with dates and banana. Dates, Medjool dates in particular, are a baker’s dream when trying to cut back on refined or added sugar. They’re a perfect substitution for sticky sweeteners like corn syrup. Added sugar, even in the form of honey or maple syrup, causes a spike in blood sugar, resulting in a crash. Not helpful for the wild and crazy lives we lead. Not helpful at all. Medjool dates are loaded with fiber, which slows down the process of sugar entering the blood stream and causing less of a spike (and crash!). Plus, it’s fruit – it’s basically nature’s candy.
Find Medjool dates in the produce section. They are often being kept cool near the berries, but if you can’t find them, just ask! Sometimes they’re in the bulk bin. Regular dates will work here too, I just prefer a Medjool date because it’s super soft and candy-like. Dates also make the perfect pre-workout snack when stuffed with peanut butter…but anyways…
back to the snack bars.These are totally customizable. I’ll be making a more grown-up version with cashew butter and dried cherries in the near future, cuz I’m fancy. Throw a few in the freezer and so you can pretend you’re eating frozen peanut butter cups – YOU’VE DONE IT BEOFRE, DON’T LIE. And hey! If you make these babies, don’t forget to tag #thenutritionaddiction on Instagram. I wanna see!
- 2 c certified gluten free rolled oats
- 1 c almonds
- ½ c pitted Medjool dates, packed tightly
- ½ c ripe, mashed banana
- ¼ c honey
- ½ c salted, natural peanut butter
- ¼ c dark chocolate chips
- ¼ c banana chips, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350. Line 8x8 or 9x9 pan with parchment paper - be sure to line sides as well.
- Spread oats and almonds out on a baking sheet.
- Toast oats and almonds for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Watch carefully, nuts burn quickly!
- Reduce oven temp to 300 once oats and almonds are done toasting.
- Process dates and banana in a food processor until smooth. Scrape out of food processor and into a medium sized mixing bowl. You'll use this food processor a few times in this recipe - no need to clean it out until you're done using it!
- Chop almonds coarsely in the food processor. 20 pulses will do the trick.
- Add chopped almonds and oats to the bowl with the date mixture.
- Heat peanut butter and honey over low heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add peanut butter mixture to the rest of the ingredients and stir.
- Add chocolate chips and chopped banana chips and stir to incorporate.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan and press down firmly. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes.
- Cool completely, then cut into bars.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool spot. I like to keep these in the fridge because it keeps the bars really firm.
Use whatever nuts you have on hand instead of almonds.
Other possible mix-ins: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, salted peanuts, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, sunflower seeds
Crumble ½ a bar over Greek yogurt for a balanced mid-day snack - protein, carbs and fat!
Drizzle melted dark chocolate over the bars once cooled and call them dessert bars.