Grain-Free Granola Bars


It’s been a little quieter in the Whole Kitchen recently…I’ve been managing to still get a couple posts up each week, but there hasn’t been a lot of activity and creativity in the kitchen. I’ve got a little adrenal fatigue goin’ on from working too hard without taking much vacation time, and recent weekends have been pretty frantic too. My body is calling for a “time out,” and all I can do is say YES. Thankfully, I have some amazing healers on my side – my chiropractor and homeopath are getting me back on the path to wellness with extra support and a few supplements.

For my part, I need more sleep, exercise and meditation…three weeks into the new regime, I’m already feeling a positive change in my body and energy level. I’ve also signed up to run the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon, so the extra exercise I need has been training runs for the big day. Working for the American Cancer Society, I participate in at least one of our events each year. My friend Emily manages the DetermiNation Charity Athlete program, and after having lunch with Emily and one of her committee members, David Pittman…I found myself wondering if I could join the ACS DetermiNation team too. I needed a new fitness goal, so I signed up. I’ll be running the half-marathon on August 1 to fight cancer for ACS (and don’t worry, I’ll be giving you an opportunity to support me later).

What does my tangent about adrenals and running have to do with food? Well, part of the healing path is simplifying my diet for a little while since my stomach has been a little quarrelsome. I’m giving my morning steel cut oats and granola bars a rest, and going as light on grains as I can manage. Green Kitchen Stories just posted a recipe for these nut bars – they’ve got a lot of protein, good fats and no sugar – they’re sweetened by the dates and dried fruit. The resulting bars are fantastic – good peanut butter flavor (always a favorite), crunchy nuts and a touch of sweetness from the fruit. The bars are a lot softer than granola bars, but they hold together pretty well if kept in the fridge. I’ll be very happy to start my mornings with these and a bowl of cinnamon quinoa for the next few weeks while I work on getting my energy back!

Grain-Free Granola Bars
makes 18 3″x3″ bars
Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

1 1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used almonds, pepitas, cashews, sunflower seeds and peanuts)
2/3 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter), unsweetened, unsalted
3 oz dates, chopped roughly
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 T water
1/2 cup chopped fruit (tart dried cherries and prunes)
2oz unsweetened coconut flakes
parchment paper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop the nuts in a food processor (chop the almonds separately from the rest of the nuts, as they are much harder than the others). Dump the nuts onto a small sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes. Place the coconut and chopped fruit in a mixing bowl and set aside. While the nuts are toasting, scoop the peanut butter, chopped dates and water into a small sauce pan and heat the mixture on a low burner, stirring as you go. As the peanut butter warms, it may seize up a bit – add a touch more water. You just want the mixture to be warm, not hot, so that you can stir the mixture together.
  2. After the nuts have been toasted for 10 minutes, pour the nuts into the mixing bowl with the fruit and coconut and stir the ingredients together. Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the nuts, and use a stiff spatula to fold the mixture together until all the ingredients are coated in peanut butter. Line the sheet pan with parchment, then dump the sticky mixture onto the parchment. Use the back of your spatula to press the gooey mixture onto the pan in an even layer about 1/2″ thick – don’t worry if it doesn’t fill the whole sheet pan, mine covered about 80%. Use your hands to finish pressing the mixture into an even layer. Place the bars into the oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes to set the bars, then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before cutting. Store the finished bars in a storage container in the fridge, with waxed paper between layers.

136 cal per 3×3″ bar, 90 cal from fat, 9.6g fat, 55mg sodium, 95 mg potassium, 11g carbs, 2g fiber, 4g sugars, 4g protein

20 thoughts on “Grain-Free Granola Bars

  1. Jenn that looks delicious!!! I definitely am going to make these for sure! I made granola last week and was thinking how great it would be if i could make granola bars. You read my mind!

    • These are really fantastic – good peanut butter flavor, and just a hint of sweetness. I’ve always got a tub of granola bars in the fridge from this recipe: http://thewholekitchen.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/granola-bars/ (made with Bob’s GF oats, of course), but for a little while here, I’ve got to cut out all my oats too…and these little gems are a great replacement…and let’s face it, I’m always up for another reason to eat peanut butter! :)

      • For real! I have recently started to follow a candida diet (with the exception of this past weekend, of course…but trust me, I paid for it…) so these would work perfectly with almond butter. Love it!

    • Great, Sabera! Hope the run goes well for you…and running for charity is a great way to go! Prep is going well so far, I’m following the regimen to the letter, and haven’t had a sore day yet. Trying not to get impatient/run faster than I should is the tough part!

  2. I’m also going very light on the grains, in fact “super light”. I find grains to be a very heavy food on my body, even though they are very light in fat. After going “grain free” or at least grain light, my body feels lighter as well.

    Your granola bars look fantastic. I am going to try this recipe with a few adjustments. I love sprouted buckwheat, so I might find a way to incorporate them into these bars. I also make my own walnut and sunflower seed butter, so I might try and substitute that for the peanut butter.

    Actually, I might be able to make these granola bars raw style, preserving all the valuable nutrients. Thank you so much for the ideas!

    • Thanks for the great ideas, Brandon! I think these would be fantastic raw! I did make a second batch with almond butter, and they were just as good – will definitely try sunflower seed butter next!

      Yeah, I am definitely with you in that grains don’t feel as good in my body. I’ve been eating a lot of quinoa lately (though that’s a seed, even if it behaves like a grain when cooked), and that’s been going well for me – love it for breakfast cooked with almond milk, cinnamon and unsweetened apple juice.

  3. These are amazing, I was looking for a grain free recipe since I don’t do gluten and I watch my carb intake. I used some almond pieces I had left after making almond milk as well as some cashews, almond butter, and a little tequila for flavor since i was out of vanilla. I also sweetened them with stevia since dates are pretty high carb. Delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Ani – glad you liked them – and I LOVE your modifications to the recipe – great way to use leftover almonds from milk – I never know what to do with them…I’ve slipped them into brownies a couple times, but didn’t think about these bars. Thanks for the ideas!

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