I’m already starting to think about how I will fuel myself (quickly) after the little bambino arrives this fall. I’m not one who functions well with long periods between meals, so planning in advance is going to be my best ally. The healthier and more balanced, the better I‘m sure I’ll feel. Bring on the healthy, hippie foods, I say! In addition to freezer friendly meals – like veggie burgers and balls, chili, soup, falafel, enchiladas, pasta + pesto sauces, burritos, etc. – I hope to prepare snacks in advance that I can individually wrap and store in the freezer. Things that I can toss into my purse or quickly unwrap when I need a boost will be so handy. Amidst uncertainty, it always feels good to have a back up plan (even if my reality will be take out food more than not).
These lightly-sweet granola bars are a great option because they are only sweetened with bananas and sweetened dried fruit. No sugar crashes here! You could even remove the dried fruit if you really wanted to, but I love how the dried cherries provide a pop of sweetness throughout. But it’s not what the bars don’t have – it’s what they do have. How about hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, rolled oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, banana, and more. These wholesome bars are crunchy, hearty, and chewy in the best way possible. And super filling thanks to the balance of protein, fibre, carbs, and healthy fats. One bar clocks in at 6.6 grams of protein and almost 5 grams of fibre (you can see the complete nutritional info in the recipe below). If you wanted to boost the protein even more, you can increase the hemp seeds (and maybe reduce the sunflower seeds a bit).
For even more staying power, try spreading on some nut or seed butter (with chia seed jam to make it a party!) or even a bit of coconut oil. That’s never a bad idea. Is it snack time yet?
Hearty, soft-baked, and chewy, these no-sugar-added granola bars will fill up the tank and keep your energy stable. Feel free to play around with the mix-ins, as the recipe is quite adaptable. Also, if you’re feeding a nut-free crowd, you can easily swap out the walnuts and almonds for more seeds (or chocolate chips, if you’re feeling wild!). This recipe is adapted from Anjali's Oat Snack Bars recipe, which was originally adapted from Faith's 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars.
- 1 1/2 cups (360 g) mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (200 g) gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup (60 to 90 g) dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries, to taste*
- 1/2 cup (50 g) walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup (75 g) sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup (80 g) pepita seeds
- 1/2 cup (60 g) sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup (35 g) hemp hearts
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish (approximately 9" x 13") and line with a piece of parchment paper (with overhang) so the bars are easier to remove.
- In a large bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Make sure you have 1 1/2 cups (if you have extra mashed banana, you can freeze it for a smoothie).
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Place the oats into a food processor (or blender set on the lowest speed) and pulse until the oats are coarsely chopped (but still have lots of texture). Stir the chopped oats into the banana mixture until fully incorporated.
- Stir the dried fruit, walnuts, sunflower and pepita seeds, almonds, hemp hearts, cinnamon, and salt into the banana-oat mixture until thoroughly combined. The dough will be very heavy and a bit wet.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish. With lightly wet hands, smooth out until even and uniform. Press down on the dough until compacted.
- Bake for 22 to 26 minutes, until firm and lightly golden along the edges.
- Place the dish on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully slide a knife to loosen the ends and gently lift out. Place the slab on a cooling rack until completely cool.
- Once cool, slice into bars. I like to use a pizza slicer as it easily cuts through the dried fruit and nuts. Leftovers can be wrapped up and stored in the fridge for a week, or stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 weeks.
* You can omit the dried fruit and sub in chocolate chips (or add a mix of both).
These bars aren't super sweet, so if you prefer something sweeter you may want to add a touch of sweetener.
To store these in the freezer, wrap the bars individually in parchment paper using 6-inch by 12-inch pieces of parchment, then tie with string or tape to secure. Finally, place all of the bars into a freezer-safe zip bag, press out all the air, and seal it shut. Or, you can simply wrap each bar with plastic wrap or tinfoil.
Approximate nutritional info: (per bar, based on 14 large bars using 1/2 cup dried sweetened cherries): 186 calories, 8.7 grams fat, 22 grams carbs, 4.7 grams fibre, 6 grams sugar, 6.6 grams protein. Without dried cherries, bars have approx. 3.6 grams of sugar and 166 calories.
Nutrition Information(click to expand)
PS- The winner of the Vitamix contest has been announced at the bottom of this post! A big thank you to everyone who took part in the #osgcookbook Vitamix giveaway and to Vitamix for donating the machine. I had a blast seeing all your pictures come in over the past 2 weeks.