Thursday, September 1, 2011

Some Hippie Shit

I've been back from the Vida Vegan Blogger Conference for a couple days (which was too overwhelming and amazing and magical to even start to blog about), and I'm working on getting back to eating healthy foods and reasonable portions of them. We're flying to Seattle tonight and I wanted a little something to take on the plane with me so I'm not starving and tempted to eat something naughty as soon as we land. Granola bars sounded like a good idea, mostly because I'm secretly a damn hippie, but also because they’re portable and a whole lot better for me than most airport and post-airport-omg-I’m-starving options. Or so I thought.

The hunt for a recipe began. I googled "healthy granola bar recipe" and the results were crap. Apparently it's cool for people to label something as being healthy even though it contains 225 calories and 15+ grams of sugar per serving. Brown rice syrup AND maple syrup AND a shitload of oil AND tons of chocolate chips? Yeah, no thanks. How is this any different from a candy bar?

I went to twitter and asked my genius friends for advice. I wanted lower-calorie, low-sugar, nutrition-packed bars. What should I use to sweeten them? What should I use as a binder? Nicole at Epicurvegan suggested dates for both. Perfect! I decided to use ground flax seed as well, since I only had four dates on hand and had no plans to change out of my pajamas and go to the store. I gathered whatever other random ingredients sounded good and this is what I came up with:

Healthy-ish Granola Bars

4 dates

1/4 c raisins

2 1/2 c just boiled water

1/2 c ground flax seed

2 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance), melted

2 c rolled oats

1/2 c raw cashews

1/2 c slivered almonds

1/4 c pepitas

1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 c unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp instant coffee granules (This is the amount I used, but I would suggest adding more.)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Put the water in a sauce pan over high heat. Combine the dates (make sure there are no pits!) and raisins in a small bowl and set aside. Measure the flax seeds out into a separate medium-sized bowl and set aside.

  1. Layer foil in a 9x13 baking dish and spray the inside with olive oil spray, but only if you want to. I suppose this would work just as well without the oil since the final result wasn’t sticky at all.

  1. Combine the oats, nuts, seeds and coconut in a large bowl and transfer the mix to the baking dish.

  1. Toast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove. Stir. Toast for another 10 minutes.

  1. When your water starts to boil, remove it from the heat and pour over the date and raisin combination, just enough to cover the fruit. Place a lid over the bowl. Let this soak while you perform the next two steps.

  1. Pour 2/3 cup of the hot water over the flax seeds, stir to combine and set aside.

  1. Melt the margarine in a small bowl in the microwave, heating it for 15 seconds at a time until almost melted. Stir it to melt the rest of the way. Add to your food processor along with the vanilla extract, salt and coffee granules.

  1. Drain the water from the date/raisin mixture and add the fruit to the food processor. Add applesauce and pulse until no large chunks of dates remain.

  1. Add flax mixture to the food processor and mix until everything is combined.

  1. Your dry mix should be toasted by now. Carefully transfer the toasted mix into the large mixing bowl.

  1. Pour the liquid mixture into the mixing bowl and stir until all ingredients combined.

  1. Pour the entire mixture into your lined baking dish. Smash it down with a spatula. Spray the spatula with a little bit of olive oil if the mixture is too sticky.

  1. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes.

  1. Let the granola cool for five minutes before cutting it into 16 bars. Once cut, let them cool for 45-60 minutes before you try to remove them from the pan. Store them, covered, in the fridge to keep them yummy and chewy and firm.

Nutrition (per bar): 165 calories, 94 calories from fat, 10.4g total fat, 3.0 saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 93mg sodium, 15.2g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 4.4g protein.

These came out pretty tasty. They’re very un-sweet, which I like. They’re not bad on the calories and sugar, and the fiber and protein are decent. They’re a little high in fat, but most of that comes from the nuts and I consider that good fat.

I think I’ll use more dates and less flax the next time I make these. Also, MORE COFFEE. I’ll probably double that, if not more. I’ll update the recipe to reflect my changes once I get them figured out. Let me know if you try these. If you like things a little sweeter, you could always add 1/4 c of chocolate chips to the mixture (chopped in a food processor if you want smaller pieces), or just melt some chocolate and drizzle it over the top as the bars cooling and refrigerate until it's firm. I hope you like these as much as I do!


  1. My first thought was, 'oh crap, I really hope *my* granola recipe is one of the ones you think was super unhealthy!' But then I remembered that you're talking granola BARS, something I haven't managed to make for the very reasons you stated in your intro. So, I think I'll be adapting your recipe to my family's favorite granola that I always have on-hand. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

  2. Yum! Healthy-ish travel snacks keep me from buying that bag of vegan doritos at the aiport, haha. How familiar are you with Seattle? I lived there for ten years and just did a blog post about my last weekend there and all the vegan food I ate. Some healthy, some not. Anyways, the recap is here if you want some suggestions:

    I highly recommend Healeo on Capitol Hill for healthy options!

  3. I am so on board with your lower-calorie, lower-sugar tastes (as far as everyday food; VVC food notwithstanding!). These look taste-tastic.