16 March, 2018
Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut Or… Fruit & Nut Bites
I must be some kind of nut (if you know me, you know that I am). I keep making different types of granola bars. I do love them and know my homemade bars are made with real food – not ingredients/chemicals I can’t pronounce that are added to store brand bars to help keep them preserved. It’s kind of like the Twinkie syndrome – I don’t think the chemicals that give Twinkies a long shelf life work for humans. LOL. In other words, eating Twinkies will NOT help you live longer and more than likely will do just the opposite.
I wasn’t really looking for another granola bar recipe to feature in the blog. I have so many other recipes I still want to share, and am trying to fit them into our meals so I can write about them. But this one jumped out and I just had to make it immediately.
So how did I find this recipe? Well, a friend at the gym posted these on a Facebook Foodie group. I hardly finished reading the entire recipe before I started pulling ingredients out of the cupboard. The recipe reminds me of a fruit and nut product I do buy from Trader Joes Nothing But Fruit and Nuts that truly is just fruit and nuts. I mentioned this treat in last month’s “Take Five” blog. If you missed it here is the link Five Favorites.
When you scroll down to the recipe, don’t let the ingredient list discourage you. I used the fruits and nuts I had readily available the day I made these. Feel free to add the fruits and nuts you love and enjoy. A variety of nuts and fruits will add depth and flavor to these bars and bites. Sunflower seeds, chia, pine nuts, the options are only limited by your favorite taste combinations. And if you just have to add chocolate, a sprinkle of cacao nibs would be a nice addition.
Dates pitted and chopped small.
Dry ingredients mixed together. To chop the nuts I put them in a freezer bag and pound them with my rolling pin a few times on each side. (Helps me with my frustrations and aggressive thoughts. Pound, pound, pound.) If you have a food processor, you can pulse the nuts a few times to break them up a bit, being careful not to over-pulse and turn them into nut butter.
Peanut butter and honey bubbling away.
All ingredients combined and spread onto parchment paper lined baking dish.
Let the cutting begin!
Having a stash of these bites and bars is like having money in the bank. While I don’t have a lot of either (money or granola bars), it is comforting to know that I have some in reserve when I need them.
- 1 cup honey*
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy) Option: almond butter
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins or craisins
- 1/4 cup prunes, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups oatmeal (good quality like Bob's Red Mill 5-grain - uncooked - slightly toasted)**
- Options - add similar amounts of dried blueberries and/or apricots to ingredients. I didn't have any when I made my batch and didn't miss them, but will definitely add these dried fruits to the next batch.
- Line a 9 X 13" pan or glass baking dish with parchment paper.
- Place all ingredients (except honey & peanut butter) into a large bowl and mix well.
- Combine honey and almond butter in a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Once ingredients reach a boil, decrease heat and summer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Pour the honey and peanut butter mixture over all the other ingredients and mix well.
- Spoon the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread out evenly with a spoon or a baggie over your hand. (I found the baggie over the hand method to be the most effective.)
- Refrigerate mixture until firm. Cut into preferred size (squares or oblong bars). Store in the refrigerator.
- *One cup of honey made the bars too sweet for my taste, so next time I will use some combination of the following. Kathy had some suggestions.
- "Brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or agave nectar work. Brown rice syrup is very sticky, and may make them too firm. I have used The heat is On peanut butter with honey, added a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder, and made fantastic Mexican hot chocolate granola bars. Fresh ground almond butter adds better flavor and texture than the creamy stuff in jars. Coconut nectar is even more sticky, and less sweet. Expensive. Salted pistachios would cut the sweetness."
- **Option to substitute oatmeal for homemade granola (Kathy used her homemade coconut cherry almond granola when she made her batch.) Yum!
- These bars freeze nicely.