Dried Fruit and Honey Granola Squares
Yields: 9 – 12 squares Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 2.5 hours
With no refined sugar and full of fiber and iron from dried fruit and oats, these granola squares are quick to whip up and are a naturally sweet treat to satisfy a craving.
1 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cup crispy rice cereal (gluten free if necessary)
1/4 cup (can be 1/2 cup if really fan of dried fruit) dried apricots, finely diced
1/4 cup (can be 1/2 cup if really fan of dried fruit) dried cranberries, finely diced
1/4 cup quality honey
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil (plus a little extra for greasing pan)
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Measure out rice cereal and oats and put into a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan over low to medium heat, mix together coconut oil, honey, brown rice syrup, vanilla, dried fruit and salt. Let cook slowly for about 5 minutes, allowing the dried fruit to soften.
3. Carefully pour the hot mixture over the dry mix and fold in together.
4. Lightly grease (with coconut oil) an 8 by 8 glass pan. Dump the granola mixture in the pan and gently press down evenly.
5. Refrigerate for about 2 hours to let the fats and sugars help harden the bars. Best kept in refrigerator.
We often buy prepackaged granola bars – some healthier than others. And every time we do this, I have this voice inside my head that says I should be making these. Yes, it does take time, and sometimes convenience is worth it. Ok, there are a lot of times convenience is worth it.
However, when you’ve got a moment and want bars fresh and full of nutrition, without questionable ingredients, these are an excellent start. These are nut free, with a little bit of tahini (sesame seed butter - high in calcium, vitamin E and many B vitamins) and the sweet syrups of honey and brown rice holding the bar together.
I add the dried fruit to the oils and sweeteners in the saucepan to let them soften and plump up a bit. It really makes a difference, so don't just dump the dried fruit in the dry mix! Additionally, as I mentioned in the recipe above, you can always add more dried fruit. The recipe can take it. I just error on the conservative side for the recipe.
Honey and brown rice syrup are definitely still sources of sugar, as natural as it is, it still is recognized by the body as sugar. That being said, some argue that there are more nutrients in honey and brown rice syrup, trace minerals and antioxidants that add to the nutritional value. Others don’t buy it and say sugar is simply sugar.
I can get on board with the side benefits from the unrefined sugar sources, as there are minerals and other benefits from the plants that give us these sweeteners. Equally, it still breaks down to simple sugars in the body, although, some may not create such a quick sugar rush as plain table sugar. All in all, I swap out when I can. These are pretty darn sweet, yet do have fiber, protein and fat to balance out the sweetness.
All these benefits and my children could care less. They gulped these down in no time, and I was just glad they were getting the nutrients from the oats, dried fruit and healthy fats (tahini and coconut oil).
Other healthy nutrient dense snacks and bars: