My mum was the best baker, a gift she inherited from her talented mother. Her chocolate and apple cakes were probably her best, but some might argue her carrot cake and bløtkake (Norwegian celebration cake) were close contenders. She rarely used measuring spoons and if she was missing an ingredient, she figured something out. Even then, her cakes were delicious, perfectly moist and good for the soul. It was always hard not to reach for a second slice. When we learnt I was gluten intolerant, she quickly mastered the art of gluten-free baking, using a combination of different flours to make cakes and bread. Remember 20 years ago GF pre-mixes were almost unheard of. I never developed a love (or patience) for baking, much preferring my important role as “chief taster”. So as I share this recipe, it is not lost on me that she is probably looking down with some amusement and isn’t surprised that the oven plays a minimal role!
If you are gluten-intolerant or know someone who is, you know how expensive it can be. My snack bars are sometimes twice the price of my husband’s and although I have found some I quite like, many are not that great or even that healthy. When my husband suggested I should start making my own, I dilly-dallied for a while but soon found this really easy looking recipe on The Minimalist Baker. The more I looked at it, the more I realised that even I could pull this off. The Minimalist Baker provides many options/variations and this is the selection I chose:
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds (roughly chopped)
- 1 packed cup of dates (pitted)
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 2 Tbsp sunflower and pumpkin seeds (raw)
- 2 Tbsp flax seeds (whole)
- 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
Just by looking at these ingredients, you can almost taste the wholesome goodness in these bars – the FIVE different seeds make a clear statement on their own. As the Minimalist Baker explains, flax and chia seeds are are very high in fibre and healthy fats, including Omega 3s. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Pumpkin seeds are also laden with nutrients and various minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, the list goes on. Finally, hemp seeds – the big powerhouse – are a complete protein full of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as all 19 essential amino acids. The sweetness of the bars comes from the dates and honey and both these also act as the bars’ binding glue.
1/ Toast your oats and almonds in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven for 13-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Mine were already golden brown around 10 minutes.
2/ Cut dates into small bits. I didn’t use the recommended food processor but it worked out well.
3/ Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl. Add seeds and set aside.
4/ Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout. Use a spoon to thoroughly mix.
5/ Transfer to square baking dish (recommended 8×8 inch) with parchment paper so they lift out easily.
6/ Cover with parchment and press down with something flat to get them really packed tight. This will keep them from crumbling. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
7/ Remove from dish and chop into even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. They can also be kept in the freezer so they last even longer.
Not only was this recipe easy to follow, I loved these granola bars – they were extremely tasty with the perfect sweetness and texture. When I initially cut them up, there was some crumbling but an extra hour in the fridge and they were perfectly solid. I’ve had them as a pre- and post-run snack but I also had a couple for breakfast when I was in a rush one morning. I was so surprised that I didn’t feel hungry until around midday. So my first attempt at making my own granola bars was a resounding success! Thank you to the Minimalist Baker for the incredible inspiration and the great step-by-step guide for this non-savvy baker!
Have you tried making your own granola bars? Are you a good baker? What other easy-to-make snacks would you recommend? Let me know if you try out this recipe!
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.