Chewy Granola Bars (Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)

September 13, 2014
Before I started developing my own recipes, I was never able to find a good granola bar that didn't use sugar. When making this one, I was looking for the following qualities: relatively cheap ingredients, no refined sugar, chewy, and won't fall apart. These fit the bill. They're dense and packed with ultra healthy ingredients. They stick together. They're chewy. They're mildly fruity and sweet, but not sickly.  They look nice. They're the ultimate granola bars.

These bars aren't vegan or gluten free, but you can easily sub out the honey for a sticky vegan option like brown rice syrup. If you're not vegan, please stick with a non-processed honey, as it's much healthier. I don't recommend using maple syrup or agave in this recipe. Gluten free, I'm not so sure in this recipe, but never fear! I have a gluten free bar in the works that should be up on the blog pretty soon.

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Yields 20 smallish bars

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dates with pits removed, packed, or about eight 
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat the oven to 350F and line a 9x13 baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the oats, flour, flax, chia, cinnamon, cranberries, cacao nibs, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and salt in a large bowl.

In a high speed blender or food processor, blend the dates, honey, applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla until it becomes a paste. 

Add the paste to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands. It takes a while with a spoon, so I usually just get in there and squish everything together with my hands.

Press the mixture into the lined baking sheet and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. If you over bake it, it'll be dry.

Let the sheet cool on a rack for ten minutes before lifting the granola bars out. You can cut them now, but if you let them cool completely first you'll get a nice clean cut and nicer looking bars. Store them in the fridge or freezer if you don't plan on eating them within a few days.

You don't have to melt the coconut oil before blending, but it makes it a lot easier to mix in.
You can change up the add-ins (sunflower seeds, cranberries) as you see fit. Use whatever you have on hand. Want to use 1 cup of chocolate chips and leave out the rest? Go for it.
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