11 January 2013

Paleo Granola Bars

In my quest to keep January sugar-free, I needed something sweet to tide over those cravings.  Not that I get a lot of sugar cravings anymore, but especially when I eat something spicy I really feel the need to balance it out with a sweeter flavor.
Sometimes I feel guilty about posting recipes like this.  It's so customizable that sometimes I wonder if it's even worth calling a recipe.  It's more like a suggestion of how to start, and then you can pretty much add whatever you want.  Allergic to almonds?  Substitute with cashews.  Don't like coconut?  Leave it out.  Have dried cherries on hand instead of mixed berries?  Perfectly fine.  Amounts, too - only have a cup of nuts on hand?  Do it.  Sick of your loud food processor?  So don't process the "granola" as much.  No big deal, guys!  These are easy!
I used slivered almonds and crumb-size pecans, so I really just threw all my ingredients into the food processor and let it rip.  If you start out with whole nuts, process those first until they are a more manageable size.  I'm not going to tell you what that size is because it really doesn't matter too much. 
The whole internet (okay, mostly paleo food blogs) is going crazy for medjool dates.  That is a thing that I would have to travel at least an hour to find, and even then I'm not sure it would actually be available.  So imagine my surprise when my local discount grocer was selling 2 kg of medjool dates for a shockingly low price!  I split a package with my brother.  This endeavor is made possible by that joyous little find.
Okay, confession:  I threw some chocolate chips into these because I had about half a cup left from holiday baking, and because I thought I might need a little help in enjoying these (I had never tried a Medjool date before).  Turns out they would have been fine without.  Lesson learned.  Oh, and I didn't add the chocolate chips until after the food processor step was done.  I kneaded them in by hand.  Easy peasy.

I found my base recipe by googling "paleo protein bars."  So rumor has it these are high in protein as well.  I haven't actually calculated out the macronutrient content but I'm 100% certain the carb content is higher than the protein content.  Also, the author touted this recipe as a homemade version of the Lara bar.  I don't eat Lara bars so I can't say one way or the other how similar it is.  But maybe that's something that interests you, so I'm sharing it here.

Paleo Granola Bars (loosely inspired by this recipe)
  • 1 c raw almonds
  • 3/4 c raw pecans
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1+ c dried mixed berries (unsweetened)  --or whatever dried fruit you have on hand!
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 c finely shredded coconut flakes (unsweetened)  --optional
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips --optional
1.  Pulse the nuts in the food processor until they are smaller than whole pieces.  Basically whatever size sounds good to you.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate chips) and process in food processor until well combined.  Remove from food processor and work in chocolate chips.
3.  Put a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Dump the "granola" mixture on the wax paper and flatten. 
Clean method:  put a second piece of was paper on top of the mixture and roll out with a rolling pin. 
Hands-on method:  wash your hands, then work the mixture flat with your hands.  Spread out until 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Or maybe you want them a bit thicker.  It's really a matter of taste.

I got roughly 15 bars from this recipe.  I forgot to count.  But it really doesn't matter, because my real recommendation is to cut them as big as you want them.  Like I said, customizable!

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