Grain Free Granola Bars (DIY Kind bars)

It’s no shock to any of my friends that I ve been pretty low energy and run down the last several months. Stress has been slowly eating at me, and the lack of a real vacation since last Christmas has me feeling a little dry and crispy at the edges. I am yearning for this week s Thanksgiving holiday, and can t wait for 4 days of laziness, cooking and relaxing at home.

I adore the foods, traditions and feeding the people I love on Turkey Day, but this year abdicating all responsibility to my aunt, uncle & cousins in the  burbs sounds like bliss. I’ll whip up a little gluten-free something to bring along, but this year, I’m kicking back and relaxing. Ahhhh.

Last month, Shauna wrote a post where she shared how she d been feeling tired, and slightly  off. She learned that she needed to give up eggs and almonds, and true to her generous spirit, she welcomed the challenge and headed to the kitchen to create. I love when the words of my blogging friends tickle the brain, spin around, and settle in…Shauna’s experience resonated with me…I know I’ve had problems with eggs in the past, and looking to get more of my energy back, I made an appointment with my amazing chiropractor/healer to do some nutritional testing to get to the bottom of things.

A snip of hair for analysis, and simple muscle testing to determine the foods, chemicals and metals that give me trouble, and we had the answers…eggs, corn, oats and soy were added to my  off-limits list for now…maybe not forever, because my reaction isn’t super severe, but for now, they’re outta here. Another run through muscle testing determined the supplements and dosage I would need to help heal my body, and I was on my way with a bag of herbs and a new regime. Such is life.

Of course I’m bummed about losing eggs and corn…two mainstays of many a grab ’n go meal of spicy egg & veggie tacos, chilaquiles, and omlettes, but after nearly 10 years in this food allergy rodeo, it’s no big deal. I’ve been stuck in a rut in the kitchen lately, and this new challenge gets my fingers tingling with anticipation to get cooking, and to learn a few new techniques. With the long holiday weekend ahead, this is the perfect time to take a deep breath, stock the pantry and reboot my kitchen, and my life.

Be KIND to your Guts Bars

I traveling frequently for work, which can leave those of us with food allergies high and dry, depending on where your flight lands. Larabars used to be my go-to road food, but I ate too many of them this summer, so I switched to the higher-end goodness of the Kind bars. At upwards of $2 a pop, they re not something I can afford to eat for breakfast every day. I was thrilled to see that Camilla, from Enlightened Cooking, had already paved the way for me in recreating the bars at home. A few twists of my own, and these bars came together in a snap, and now I m set with tasty bars to last me for a couple weeks, for the cost of about 3 Kind bars. This is my kind of cooking.

Grain Free Granola Bars
Adapted from Camilla’s Enlightened Cooking
Serves: 15, 3×4 bars

2 cups raw nuts, roughly chopped (I used 1 c hazelnuts, 1 c cashews)
1 cup raw seeds (I used pepitas and sunflower seeds)
1/3 cup unsweetened large coconut flakes
1/3 cup minced dried apricots
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Scoop the chopped raw nuts and seeds onto a 1/4 sheet pan (9×13), and toast for 15 minutes, stirring at the 7 minute mark, to ensure the nuts don t burn. Add the coconut flakes when you stir.
  3. When the nuts are toasted, scoop them into a medium mixing bowl. Add the minced dried fruit and stir together.
  4. Pour the brown rice syrup, honey, salt, pinch of cinnamon and black pepper in a small bowl. Warm in the microwave on the lowest setting for 15-30 seconds to gently heat the syrup to make it easier to stir into the nuts and fruit.
  5. Pour the warmed syrup mixture over the nuts, using a spatula to ensure that you get every last drop. Stir the nuts and syrup together. Put a little elbow grease into it to ensure that all the fruit and nuts get an even glossy coating of syrup.
  6. Line the sheet pan with parchment paper, and spray with oil.
  7. Scoop the nut & fruit mixture onto the lined cookie sheet, and spread with a spatula. Next, spray a second sheet of parchment to cover the bars as you press the mixture firmly into the pan. Peel the top layer of parchment off when done pressing the bars together.
  8. Place the bars back in the oven for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the bars from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then proceed to cut them while they re still slightly warm. If they fully cool before cutting, they will not slice into neat squares – they will break unevenly into shards.
  10. Gently lift the bars out of the pan by the parchment liner, and use a chef knife to slice the bars into squares while still on the parchment – otherwise they will stick.
  11. Once cut, use a butter knife to separate the bars from the paper, and store in a container with sheets of parchment between layers to prevent sticking. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

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