These bars are simple, delicious and packed full of high-quality, plant-based protein. A great substitute for packaged granola bars, they’re the perfect snack when you’re running short on time. Feel free to mix things up a little! Switch out the walnuts for pecans or the blueberries for goji berries. Throw in ¼ cup of hemp or chia seeds; just make sure to remove ¼ cup of something else, like the oatmeal.
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
3 cups gluten-free oats
½ cup dried blueberries (or cranberries or goji berries)
2½ cups rice crisp cereal (such as Nature’s Path)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt (or a tiny bit less)
½ cup roasted almond butter or peanut butter
1 cup brown rice syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a 10-by-16-inch cookie sheet with two pieces of parchment paper, one in each direction.
Spread the walnuts in an even layer on another rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, dried blueberries, rice crisp cereal, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the cooled toasted walnuts. In a small saucepan, stir together the almond butter and brown rice syrup until well combined. Cook over medium to high heat until the mixture softens and bubbles slightly; then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the almond butter mixture over the oat mixture, using a spatula to scrape every last bit out of the saucepan. Stir well until the oats and cereal are coated. The mixture will be thick and a little difficult to stir. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cookie sheet, spreading it in an even layer. Lightly wet your hands and press down on the mixture to even it out. Use a pastry roller to compact the mixture firmly and evenly. This helps the bars hold together better. Press down on the edges with your fingers to even it out further.
Place the pan in the freezer, uncovered, and chill for 10 minutes or until firm. Using the parchment paper as handles, lift the oat square off the pan and place it on a cutting board. With a pizza roller or serrated knife, slice evenly into bars. Wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap or foil and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to a month.
Adapted from a recipe by Angela Liddon.
Kellie Timmins is an experienced wellness professional trained in diet, lifestyle and wellness coaching. She graduated as a certified health coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and holds an additional certification from The American Association of Drugless Practitioners.