I was having a difficult time trying to figure out what I should call these. I’ve made them so many times, but each time, they’ve been a little different – which is, I suppose, a big part of the reason I love the recipe so much.
Essentially, you can make the granola bar to your taste by mixing in different combinations of dried fruit and nuts (or chocolate). I’m partial to dried cherries and almonds, so that is what I usually start with (and the recipe I chose to include here). In the past, I’ve also included dried apricots and pumpkin seeds – and am sure that dried blueberries, hazelnuts, or walnuts would be equally delicious. The key component that allows for their versatility is the honey-almond butter “glue” that holds them together.
In case the recipes here haven’t given me away just yet, I have a dairy and soy allergy. I have learned the hard way that when traveling, especially during the airport portion, eating can be pretty tricky unless I plan in ahead. Almost all of the time, the seemingly simple things like bread, oatmeal, and even organic whole ingredient snack bars have traces of milk or soy lecithin (if you have to read food labels for any reason, you can relate). So since Jon and I will be traveling this weekend, I decided to make these to take along. They pack really well and are a good snack on the plane.
Before you get started, here are a few things you should know about this recipe. 1) If you have the time and equipment, I highly recommend making your own almond butter. It’s very easy, and makes a world of difference in the final product. 2) If you exceed the amount of dried fruit or nuts/seeds listed, you’ll likely have to compensate with a higher volume of the almond butter and honey mixture. The ratio is roughly 3:2 (fruit/nut to almond butter mixture) 3) Toast the oats, seeds, and nuts separately. Each has a different optimal toasting time, and the turning point is often reached quickly, so watch them carefully. They will become fragrant and slightly browned when done.
brown rice + almond butter granola bars
(adapted from food 52)
1 1/2 cups gluten free oats*
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
3 cups brown rice cereal
1 cup almond butter (see recipe below)
1 cup raw honey
1 tsp. salt (only if almond butter is unsalted, otherwise 1/2 tsp.)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
*This version also happens to be gluten-free, as the brown rice cereal is naturally, and the oats can easily be swapped for a gluten-free variety. Regular old fashioned oats work just as well.
Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds separately. The oats should take about 15 minutes, sunflower seeds about 12-14, and almonds about 10-12. Meanwhile, measure the rice cereal into a large bowl. As you finish toasting the oats, seeds, and nuts, add them to the bowl with the cereal. Once everything is done and slightly cooled, add the cherries and mix well to combine.
Prepare a 13×9 pan by greasing it slightly. Alternatively, line the pan with parchment paper to prevent the bars from sticking.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey and almond butter. Heat on low, just until the mixture thins slightly and small bubbles form on the sides. It’s important not to let the mixture boil, it will make it too dry and won’t hold the bars together well. Once it’s heated, add the salt and cinnamon and stir until incorporated. Pour the warmed almond butter and honey over the cereal mixture, and toss gently but thoroughly to make sure everything is combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared 13×9 pan, using a spatula to distribute it evenly. Once it is loosely in place, take a sheet of parchment paper the size of the pan and lay over top. Use your hands to press the bars into the corners, smoothing over the top as you go. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day (or at least 4 hours later), cut the bars however you like and store them in an airtight container.
3 cups raw almonds
1 tsp. raw honey
1-2 tsp. sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 12 minutes. Let cool slightly, but not completely. Put all three cups in a food processor, and process to a fine powder. At this point, the almonds will start to break down. Continue to let the processor run, stopping to scrape down the sides every 2 minutes or so. When it’s finished, it will be smooth and creamy, usually after letting the food processor run for at least 10-12 minutes. Add the salt and honey, and pulse to combine. Store in an airtight jar. You will use almost all of it for the granola bars.