Healthy Nut Butter Power Bars

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Another “keeper” recipe that has come out of this pandemic situation for me!  My poor DIL, who is nursing a pretty new baby, is having to restrict her diet considerably to try to figure out what may be bothering the baby.  She was talking about how much they enjoy having granola/power bars for a quick breakfast or snack but they were struggling to find bars without soy. Seems soybean oil is pretty prevalent. Along with soy, she is also eliminating gluten, dairy, peanuts, eggs and beef!  

Challenge accepted.  What I didn’t realize is that the bars I would create with all these restrictions would actually be some of the best ever!  The other good thing about these bars, is that there are so many options within each ingredient category, that you most likely could make them right now with what you have in a well-stocked pantry.  

As you can see, I used pine nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), hazelnuts and pecans, but you could use whatever your favorite nuts are. Maybe almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts or pistachios. Whatever you have around.  All good.  

You can also use whatever dried fruit is your favorite or that you need to use up. I used cherries, apricots and dates because that’s what I had around.  Raisins or dried berries could work too. I just wouldn’t use all dried berries because they are not sticky enough. Maybe combine them with some sticky fruit.

And I used cashew butter because I couldn’t use peanut butter and I had some, but any nut or seed butter would work here.

I was thinking for my next batch maybe pecans and coconut shavings with pepitas, dried cherries and maple syrup! Power bar empowerment!

I truly hope you will give these a try and let me know in the comments what amazing combination you created!  I’d love to see what you do with it!

Healthy Nut Butter Energy Bars

These yummy, chewy bars are full of healthy deliciousness and can be adapted to what you have in your kitchen. They are protein and fiber-packed, lightly sweetened with dried fruit and a touch of honey (or maple syrup). Perfect breakfast and coffee at your desk, or an afternoon snack with tea.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast, energy bars, granola bars, pantry cooking
Servings: 24 bars
Author: Kiki Simpson, Healthy Sexy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw nuts I used pecans, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Could use almonds,walnuts, cashews, pistachios or even unsweetened coconut shavings.
  • 1/2 cup raw seeds I used pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Could use a combo; sunflower, hemp hearts, sesame, chia.
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted plus more to grease pan, if needed. Could use olive oil.
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats divided
  • 1 cup dried fruit I used cherries, apricots and dates. Could use raisins (currants), dried blueberries or strawberries, cranberries or mango.
  • 3/4 cup nut butter, stirred well, warmed slightly if cold I used cashew butter. Could use, peanut butter, sunflower butter, almond butter.
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup. I used mostly honey but with a touch of maple.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal Added to 3 tablespoons water to create a flax egg. Could use 1 large egg.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) - or use your toaster oven. Spread nuts and pepitas in a baking pan and bake until slightly darkened, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let sit to cool.
  • Reduce or set oven temp to 300°F (150°C). Lightly grease 9"x13"(23x33cm) pan or baking dish (it helps to grease pan under parchment a bit to keep it from moving around). Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both long sides for easy removal. Lightly grease the parchment.
  • Prepare your flax egg, if using, by combining the 1T flax meal with 3T water in a small bowl. Stir to combine and let rest 5-10 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of the oats to the food processor with the cool nuts and seeds. Pulse until the nuts are broken down and few whole oats remain. Should be a very rough sand texture. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Pulse any dried fruit (no need to wipe out) in the food processor until finely chopped, about the size of half raisins? Transfer to bowl with nuts and oats.
  • Add remaining 1 cup of oats to the bowl and stir to combine, making sure to break up and distribute the dried fruit. Add melted 3 T oil and stir to combine. Drip nut butter over the top, don't stir it in yet.
  • In a small saucepan, bring honey, salt and vanilla to a boil then immediately reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until honey is foaming, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour over the nut butter in the bowl and stir to combine. Make sure to break up any clumps.
  • Add flax egg (or real egg that has been beaten well) to bowl with all other ingredients and stir until "egg" is well combined.
  • Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and press firmly into an even layer in the pan. I like to use a metal 1 cup measure to press it down, then finish with my fingers.
  • Bake the mixture until golden brown on top and no longer sticky, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes before scoring (lightly) into 24 pieces (I cut in half crosswise, then 2 more cross cuts in each half. Then cut in half lengthwise and 1 more cut in each half in that direction). Do not remove from pan until completely cooled. Then use overhanging parchment to lift bars out onto cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut along scoring to separate the bars, being careful to keep them intact.
  • Bars can be kept at room temperature in airtight container for up to a week, or stored in refrigerator for longer or frozen for longer than that.

Notes

If you choose to use sunflower or sesame seeds as part of your seed mixture, remember they will toast a lot quicker than pumpkin seeds.  You may want to add them in the last 1-3 minutes of roasting. Sunflower seeds can take about 3 minutes, sesame seeds only 1-2.
Chia, and hemp seeds can be added without toasting or maybe just add them to the mix 1 minute before removing from the oven.

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