May 282015

Long time no see! I’ve had quite the eventful few months, which is why I’ve been shamelessly neglecting tush cook. Between finishing the most intense semester of grad school yet, 2 jobs, and planning a wedding, my hands have been a little full. But, today I’m excited to share not only these amazing energy nut bars, but also the 1 week countdown to our wedding weekend. Woah.
Let’s focus on the bars first (we’ll get to the wedding later). Do you ever secretly hate yourself when you spend $3 for a granola bar and think, I could probably make these myself? Well I have, so I did. To be honest the first time I made these they didn’t come out exactly as planned, they were a little sticky and didn’t hold together as well as I hoped. But I adjusted the recipe slightly and now they are PERFECTION. The best part about making these kind-of KIND bars yourself is not only the serious discount, but also that you can put in whatever you want or have lying around in the pantry. For me that meant dried blueberries + coconut + chia seeds + pistachios + cinnamon + lots of other nuts and seeds + some brown rice puff cereal. I have to say I’m pretty obsessed with how these turned out.
The other awesome thing, is you can make a big batch of these, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, and freeze them to make them last longer.
Nutrition highlights: Let’s get this out of the way too before we talk wedding. Nut bars like this have gotten a little bit of a bad rep lately, since I’m not going to lie, they can be a little high in fat. But guess what? We all need fat, and nuts give us a healthy kind, and keep us fuller longer than any other type of nutrient. In moderation nuts are an incredible food to include in your diet. So eat your nuts (without going nuts). The other bonus to making your own bars is that you can cut them into whatever size works for you. I cut mine into smaller squares for a perfectly portioned snack, rather than the full sized bars.
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Blueberry, Pistachio, Coconut & Chia Kind-of-KIND Bars
(makes about 10-14 bars depending on the size)
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What’s in it:
¾ cup almonds, raw and unsalted
½ cup walnuts, raw and unsalted
½ cup pistachios, raw and unsalted
¼ sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted
1 T chia seeds
⅓ cup puffed rice cereal (or other puffed grain cereal)
⅓ cup dried blueberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon sea salt

How to make them:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°f. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and spray a large bowl and spatula with non-stick spray.
2. Spread the almonds, walnuts, and pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, shake the pan and add the sunflower seeds, and bake an additional 2 minutes, and then coconut for 1 minute, or until nuts are toasted and fragrant.
3. Coarsely chop the toasted nuts, and put them in the prepared bowl. Mix in the cereal, chia seeds, and dried blueberries.
4. Pour the honey and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan. If you’re really fancy, clip on a candy thermometer and heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches 260°f. If you’re like me and don’t even know what a candy thermometer looks like, just heat the mixture until it’s bubbling.
5. Turn off the heat and mix in the salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, then pour the mixture over the nut mixture and stir to combine.
6. Pour into the prepared baking pan and press the mixture so it is even (greasing the bottom of a measuring cup and pressing works well).
7. Let the pan sit at room temperature for about 1 hour (you can refrigerate it to speed up the process). Once the mixture has set, take it out of the pan and cut it into 10-14 bars.

A few extra recipe notes:
– For storage, wrap individually in plastic wrap so they don’t stick together. They are good for about a week at room temp or can be frozen.
– Feel free to swap any nuts, seeds, and dried fruit you like. Note that the bigger the nut, the longer it usually takes to toast, so you may need to toast them separately and watch the nuts closely so they all are properly toasted but not burnt (that’s what gives these such great flavor).
And now the fun stuff! I’m getting married in just over 1 week (cue excitement, nervousness, all of the emotions, etc). I made this recipe originally to thank the hostesses of my AMAZING cooking theme bridal shower for “getting off their tush and showering me with love”. See below for vegetable vases, cookbooks photoshopped with my face, and of course chef’s hats for the #1 chef and taste tester. Lucky to be so loved and can’t wait for the celebrations to continue next weekend. Here’s to what will probably be my last blog post as a Lubin!
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