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