I’ve been trying to keep fairly healthy this month, and other than gradually polishing off the remains of the Christmas chocolates I’ve been doing quite well; I’m not dieting per se, just cutting back on the cakes and biscuits for a while. I still find myself in need of a daily mid-morning snack however, something that I can just grab and go and that satisfies any sweet cravings I may have. A granola bar fits the bill well but I think that when it comes to most shop bought versions they are not actually very healthy (or filling) so you may as well just be eating a bar of chocolate…so I made my own, and crammed them full of super healthy and filling ingredients.
These are no-bake granola bars, though I do toast the oats and seeds in the oven briefly, this step is totally optional but it does really bring out the flavour. I used three kinds of seeds – pumpkin, golden linseeds and chia, and the main base of the bars is porridge oats and puffed brown rice cereal, which is available from health food shops or I found it in the gluten free section of my local supermarket. Whole raw almonds add flavour and crunch, and sweetness comes from dried fruit in the form of cranberries, apricots and goji berries. I couldn’t resist adding a bit of dark chocolate, besides, it is full of anti-oxidants; use the darkest chocolate you can bear, I used 90% cocoa, but anything over 70% is fine. All of these ingredients are so incredibly good for you but also make for a really delicious combination, and because the bars are quite substantial due to the oats, nuts and seeds, they are actually filling and will keep you satisfied for a good while.
The bars are bound together with a mixture of coconut oil, honey and brown sugar, yes there is sugar in these, but it works best to hold everything together and there is so much healthy stuff in these that I don’t think a little bit of sugar is going to do any harm. The bars do hold together very well and don’t crumble at all, provided that you really pack the mixture down very firmly in the tin and then chill them well before slicing with a very sharp knife. The texture of the bars is chewy, with a bit of crunch from the nuts and seeds, and they are very more-ish! They are great for breakfast on the go, a mid-morning or afternoon snack, or to take out hiking (I’ll be making a batch to take on a walking weekend in the Lake District next month); and they keep well for up to a couple of weeks at room temperature. I’ve been finding them incredibly useful to have to hand when I start to get peckish and would usually reach for the biscuits and I’m going to make sure that I’ve always got a few in the cupboard from now on.
- 225g (2cups) porridge oats
- 70g (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 40g (1/4 cup) golden linseeds
- 60g (2 cups) puffed brown rice cereal
- 75g (1/2 cup) whole raw almonds
- 40g (1/4 cup) chia seeds
- 70g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries
- 85g (1/2 cup) chopped dried apricots
- 30g (1/4 cup) goji berries
- 100g (3.5oz) coconut oil (or butter)
- 100g (3.5oz) light brown soft sugar
- 150g (5.3oz) runny honey
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 75g (2.65oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Spread the oats, pumpkin seeds and golden linseeds out in a roasting tray and toast them in the oven for 8-10 minutes until just starting to turn golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Line a 26cm/10in square tin with baking parchment, leaving some overhanging on either side.
- Tip the cooled oats and seeds into a large bowl along with the puffed rice cereal, almonds, chia seeds, dried cranberries, apricots and goji berries, mix everything together.
- Place the coconut oil, sugar and honey in a pan, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved then bring up to the boil and allow to bubble for a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt then pour over the oat mixture, stir until everything is well combined. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so until the mixture is no more than barely warm, then stir through the chopped chocolate.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out into an even layer then pack it down very firmly; use the base of a glass to help you to press it down. Place the tin in the fridge to chill for about an hour until completely cold.
- Use the overhanging parchment to lift the slab out of the tin then cut it into twelve slices using a very sharp serrated knife (slice it into quarters the cut each quarter into three strips.). Wrap each bar individually in clingfilm and store at room temperature for up to a couple of weeks, or in the fridge for up to a month.
I am sharing these with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Fiesta Friday hosted by Simply Vegetarian 777 and Food Eat Love, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday, Friday Favourites and Friday Features