Feb 092014

How can you let someone know that you love them this valentines day? Option A: Chocolate. Never fails. Option B: Make them something super healthy to let them know you want them to be around for a while. Well this granola bar recipe does both!
I’ve had a few failed granola bar attempts–some were too crumbly and fell apart, others were too sweet, but these were really perfect to me. They were a great soft consistency but still held together really well. They are so much tastier and better for you than store bought granola bars, and you can make them with any variety of dried fruits and nuts you like or have on hand. These were not too sweet, but just sweet enough to satisfy my daily afternoon cravings.
Nutritional Highlights: A lot of granola bars at the store seem healthy but really are packed with sugar, ingredients you can’t pronounce, and other things that you wouldn’t want in your “heathy” snack. These bars are sweetened only with dried fruit (dates and cherries), coconut, and dark chocolate. There is tons of fiber in here, from the chia seeds and oats, and lots of protein from the variety of nuts and seeds. Extra bonus…these are gluten free (as long as you use GF oats) and vegan.
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Dark Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars
makes about 12-15 granola bars
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What’s in it:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed pitted dates, quartered
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup creamy almond butter
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted unsalted)
1/3 cup roughly chopped almonds (I used roasted unsalted)
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/4 (or maybe a little more :) cup roughly chopped dark chocolate (or use chips/chunks)
1/4 tspn sea salt

How to make it:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Toast the oats for about 10-15 minutes until slightly brown and fragrant. Let cool. Reduce oven temp to 325.
2. Soak dates in water for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients excluding the oats (seeds, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, sea salt).
4. In a small food processor, blend half of the oats (3/4 cup) into flour. Add the oat flour and remaining whole oats into the dry mixture.
5. Add the dates/water and almond butter into the food processor and blend until smooth. Mix into the dry mixture.
6. Line a shallow baking pan with parchment. Press the granola bar mixture in the pan into a 1/4 to 1/2 in thick, even layer. Press it in very firmly for a few minutes, this will help keep them from falling apart. My batch only filled half of my sheet pan.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm and slightly brown. Allow to cool completely and then cut them into bars (or other fun shapes).
8. Enjoy and share with someone you love!

You can wrap these individually and keep them in the freezer if you have left overs…although I doubt they will last that long!
These will definitely make you and your valentine a little bit happier and healthier this year. Valentineless this year? Lucky you…you don’t have to share :)

  2 Responses to “Dark Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars”

  1. Just made these for the first time and they were beyond yummy! I’d like to make bigger batches and save for later. What’s the shelf life? Any Recommendations for storing them?

    • So glad you liked them!! I was pretty obsessed too. I think they would be good at room temp for about 2 weeks if you wrap them well, but I froze my extras and it was perfect. I just took it out in the morning and by the time I ate it for my afternoon snack you would never know it had been frozen!

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