Sunday 18 May 2014

Primal "Granola" Bars

The hardest things to duplicate are the ready-made snacks that used to go in my stepson's lunches. Like many kids, he loooves granola bars. Sure, store bought granola bars are convenient but are filled with sugar and other evil things. And - which really makes me shudder - they have a 6 month expiry date on them. How can "food" have a 6 month expiry date?

Its not easy to replicate the chewy, sticky granola bar in paleo or primal fashion. And I didn't manage it despite many attempts. These "granola" bars are a bit crumbly at room temperature and hold together best when cold. Initially they are a bit time consuming to make but once you get the flow of it they come together quite quickly. AND they are delicious. Stepkid gives them 2 thumbs up (phew!).

People have been bugging me to put the recipe on the blog for ages so finally, here it is.

Gather Tools:

3 bowls: 1 small, one medium and 1 large
food processor or a chopping knife and muscle
9 x 11 inch baking pan
parchment paper
things to stir with - whisk, wooden spoon, clean hands
something to compress the bars with - bent spatula; Marcus favours a potato masher we have

Gather Ingredients:

1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1.5 Tbsp water
1/3 cup coconut oil or butter
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
3 slightly heaping Tbsp coconut flour
3/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup raw or toasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raw or toasted sunflower seeds

1.5 cups medium shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
handful of large coconut flakes

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate
coarse salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line the baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper big enough to come up the sides of the pan.

In the large bowl mix the ground flax seed with the water and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

In the small bowl mix together the oil/butter, almond butter, honey and vanilla. I usually microwave these to make them them easier to mix and later combine with the dry ingredients.  After 10 minutes, add contents of the small bowl to the large bowl and mix well.

Add coconut flour and baking soda to the large bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Toast the pumpkin and sunflower seeds by adding them to a dry skillet on medium heat. Stir frequently and remove from heat when they start to turn golden. Allow to cool.

Add the nuts and seeds to your food processor and chop until they are in various sizes that you think will be a nice texture in your bars. I generally do this in 2 batches so I that have some of the nuts and seeds ground up very finely  (like flour) and some that are still chunky. Pour chopped nuts and seeds  into the medium bowl. If you don't have a food processor, then chop these up with a knife. Yes, I did this a few times, I know its a long process. In fact this is what made me bite the bullet to buy a food processor. If you click the link this is the updated version of my food processor. Love the red.

Add the coconut flakes of both sizes to the nut-seed mixture and mix well.

Add the the seed-nut-coconut mixture to the wet ingredients in the large bowl and stir. Make sure the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined with the wet. I usually get in there with my hands and squish the mixture through my fingers to make sure its all well distributed. Pretty fun for kids of all ages.

Dump the granola bar mixture into the parchment paper lined pan, distribute evenly, then firmly press flat with hands and then some flat utensil. You want this mixture to be as compacted as evenly and firmly as possible.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes.

As soon as the pan comes out of the oven, you are going to have to compact the bars again as they puff up as they come out the oven. Press hard. You know you are pressing hard enough when the bars get shiny from squishing the oils to the surface.

Immediately after compressing, sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the bars and let sit for a few minutes. This allows the chocolate time to warm and melt. With a table knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the bars. Sprinkle with coarse salt if you wish.

Let cool to room temperature then place in the refrigerator for a few hours. When cold, cut into 20 squares or bars with a sharp knife. Although the pieces look small, these bars are highly caloric dense. One is enough for a snack. Keep the bars in the fridge or in the freezer until ready to eat.


Brownie points for organic ingredients, soaked and dried nuts, grass fed butter and fair trade chocolate.

Has anyone been able to duplicate the bendy, chewy, non-crumby granola bars in paleo or primal fashion? Let me know in the comments.

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