Granola bars have come a long way. People want more protein, energy, fortified fiber, full servings of fruits and vegetables, and whole-meal replacements in quick convenient food. All of this can now be found in an individually wrapped bar. The problem with these individually wrapped bars is the waste they produce. Why not make just make it yourself? This way, it is less expensive and I can put exactly what I want in them. These homemade power bars, a family favourite, mimic the well-known Larabar food bar. Their sweetness comes solely from dates, which are pureed and make a perfect binder for nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and flavour. You can try this base recipe to start and then experiment. See tips below for some alternate flavour combinations.
Photograph by Reena Newman
Homemade Power Bars
- Food Processor
- 3 cups raw almonds, coarsely ground
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds, coarsely ground
- ⅓ cup ground flax seeds
- ⅓ cup sesame seeds
- 3 cups packed pitted Medjool dates
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped dried fruit or shredded coconut optional
- Line a square pan with parchment paper (see COOL FACT below).
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine almonds and seeds.
- Using a food processor, make a date paste by pulsing pitted dates with the cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Paste may form into a ball in the processor. If so, break apart with your hands and continue to pulse.
- Add the nuts and seeds to the processor and continue to pulse, breaking up date paste from time to time until fully incorporated. The date paste is very thick and you may think that all the dry ingredients will not get fully incorporated. They will, it just requires some muscle on your part. You can transfer date paste mixture to a large bowl and knead with hands if necessary.
- Transfer blended mixture to a lined baking pan. Press paste to form an even layer. Fingers, the back of a spoon, or a good sturdy spatula can help.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let firm up in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight. Take off binder clips and use parchment handles to lift bars out of the pan. Cut, place in resealable bags and store in the refriger-ator. These freeze very well.
POWER BAR TIPS
- Food processors are great for coarsely grinding nuts and seeds in big batches; however, for small batches and spices, I use a cheap coffee grinder for nuts, seeds and spices only.For Chocolate Mint Power Bars, add ¼ cup (60 mL) cocoa powder and ½ tsp (2 mL) peppermint extract to the date paste while processing. For Cherry Coco-nut Power Bars, add ½ cup (125 mL) chopped dried cherries and ½ cup (125 mL) shredded coconut after processing.For a nut-free version omit nuts and replace with an equal amount of seeds (like pumpkin seeds).For decadent-looking bars, or a great healthy dessert, melt 2–3 oz (60–90g) white or dark chocolate and drizzle overtop.
COOL FACT: HOW TO GET SQUARES OUT OF THE PAN
To line a baking pan for squares or bars, use 2 cut layers of parchment and crisscross to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Use binder clips to hold parchment to the sides of the pan. Once the bars are finished baking you can take the binder clips off and lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment handles.