It doesn’t happen much, but I LOVE getting recipe requests. It’s a fun challenge in baking that involves just a little more thinking and planning, but yields even more satisfying results. This weeks challenge? Nut-free granola bars.
Per request of my cousin, these bars are great for those with allergies. She works in a pre-school with tons of adorable little kids, but they aren’t allowed to bring nuts to school. These granola bars are completely nut free and can easily be made gluten free as well by using gluten free oats and oat flour.
Allergies aside, this is a great recipe for me too! I’m always looking for new snacks to eat after daily gymnastics practice. Most days I don’t eat in between school and practice, so by the time I get home at 4:30 I’m usually starving (why lunch at school sometimes starts at 10:45 is beyond me). Rather than gorge on junk food, I typically try to fuel back up with healthy snacks. This recipe is definitely one to add into to the apple+pb and oatmeal rotation.
The original recipe called for peanut butter, which we all know I love, but obviously that heavenly substance wouldn’t for a nut-free recipe. I didn’t want to mess up the texture, so I switched it out for sunflower seed butter. It has a similar texture and taste to other nut butters, and it’s a favorite among my friends who can’t eat nuts. It gave the bars an unusual, rich flavor that was a big hit with the whole family.
You can use any kind of dried fruit you want, but I went with two of my favorites: dates and dried cherries. Other ideas: raisins, dried cranberries, dried apples, unsweetened coconut flakes. If you don’t need to go nut free, feel free to try pecans, almonds, or walnuts to give the bars a little more crunch. I also added in some chocolate chips ;)
Any other baking requests?
Chewy Nut-Free Granola Bars
1 2/3 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 cups of dried fruits, I used a mixture of dates, dried cherries, and chocolate chips
1/3 cup of sunflower butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
6 tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
1 tablespoon of water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a brownie pan with two overlapping strips of parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium large bowl, stir together the oats, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and dried fruit; set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sunflower butter, vanilla, melted butter or oil, maple syrup, and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is even. Pour it into the prepared pan, pressing firmly to ensure the bars will be molded to the correct shape.
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are just brown around the edges. Cool the bars in the pan on a cooling rack until they reach room temperature. Once cool, use a sharp knife to cut the bars into squares. Store them in an airtight container or in the freezer. Enjoy!