Go figure that I’m at the end of my pregnancy, about to embark another another major life (and schedule!) change, and yet I find myself suddenly drawn back to the kitchen. Maybe it’s nesting, maybe it’s the change in seasons – either way I’ve been having fun cooking, eating, and occasionally even photographing and documenting.
With limited time and convenience foods around every corner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of spending more money and buying more packaging for quick grab-n-go snacks like granola bars. Rather than plunk down another $2 per bar this week, I decided to take a stab at making my own.
These weren’t really a direct attempt to replicate any one bar, but if I had to pick I’d say they are closest to KIND bars (our favorites!). I’m certainly not the first person ever to recreate a popular snack bar, but this was my first time trying and I was really happy with how they turned out. Why didn’t I do it sooner?
Making my own not only allowed me to save money, but it also gave me the opportunity to add healthy boosts like chia and hemp seeds that the store-bought version might be lacking. These are definitely being added to our weekly meal prep list!
Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (12-14 bars)
- 1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 cup walnut pieces, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup whole apricots, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup organic brown rice syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
These are ridiculously simple to make, and now that I know that I’m hoping to throw together a big batch each weekend to keep in our pantry all week long.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and get started by measuring out the almonds and walnuts. It is important to note that these measurements were taken when the nuts were still whole, not after they had been chopped (same goes for dried fruit).
Add all of the nuts, dried fruit, and seeds to a big bowl, and stir to combine. You can sub in (and out!) whatever fruit and nuts you prefer and have on hand, but my advice would be to not skip the ginger. It gives a nice, unexpected punch to an otherwise relatively predictable flavor combination.
Stir in almond meal and pour brown rice syrup over the entire mixture. Stir thoroughly until the mixture is sticky and all components appear to have at least some syrup coating. You want it to be well mixed so it will hold together well after cooking!
Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil, leaving excess that hangs over the edges (you will need this to lift the bars out afterward). Spray or grease the foil so that nothing will stick.
Pour the fruit and nut mixture into the pan and press down so that the mixture is tightly packed into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, the mixture will not appear to be set, but that’s okay. Pull it out and let it cool on the counter for about 15 minutes as is. Once that time has passed, the mixture should be set up and starting to harden a bit more. Use the excess foil to lift the entire mixture from the pan, and transfer to a cutting board.
Slice into even bars, but do not attempt to remove them from the foil just yet. They are still sticky and flimsy as they continue to harden, but you want to get them cut before they are too hard and cause breakage.
Allow bars to cool completely and harden, and then they should remove easily from the foil. Resist the urge to peel them off early, or they will fall apart due to not being completely set and hardened. You might have to hide them from tiny fingers.
Store with wax paper between them in an airtight container. Pack for snacks, lunches, and quick energy boosts throughout the day!
I’ve been putting these in my diaper bag all week, one for each of us. They serve as a great healthy snack with a controlled amount of sugar, which is important to me as as both a mom, and as someone who tries to be mindful of her own snacking.
I was happy that they hardened up well and held together nicely, making them easy to transport and causing very little mess. Cullen absolutely could not get enough, and for a kid that would be happy to survive solely on toast, I was happy to see him getting good healthy fats and protein from things like nuts, chia, and hemp seeds.
These are easily customizable as long as you stick to the same basic ratios. Try a different sweetener (but make sure it’s sticky enough to hold together!), add chocolate chips or coconut flakes, make a tropical version using dried mango, pineapple, and papaya. There are so many ways to make these different, and yet still delicious.
And make sure to share a few with friends.
As always, enjoy!