BOOM. I’ve finally created a packable homemade snack that knocks it out of the park! Sure, I’ve made regular granola bars before– with the typical combination of honey and rolled oats. And while they were delicious, they just didn’t fill me.
Anyone who’s into healthy eating probably knows that steel-cut oats are better for you than rolled oats. In addition to a higher nutrient content, they’re also considered more filling. Win!
Search for granola bar recipes and you’ll find plenty of different ways to turn rolled oats into a snack– even recipes with dates. But steel-cut oats? That’s my contribution.
All you need are 5 ingredients:
A note about sweetness…
Americans LOVE sugar– but unfortunately, it’s a toxin. And humans are just not designed (or evolutionarily equipped) to handle massive amounts of it.
Concentrated sweetness is rare in nature. Sugar, as you probably know, is extracted from a highly-fibrous, tough plant, meaning that granulated sugar is not a whole food and totally inaccessible to wild animals.
The sweetest whole foods out there (meaning they’re super sweet in their natural form) are probably honey and dates. And both of those have at least a few positive nutritional properties. Why not replace sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup, another unnatural extract) with these yummy whole-food substitutes?
So, when it comes to snacking, I’m all about eating clean. Goodbye, packaged store-bought crunchies that last forever! I’d rather make snacks myself. Why?
1. No Additives.
I recently read the label of a packet of Trader Joe’s granola bars. Healthy, right? Actually, the first ingredient listed was Brown Rice Syrup. More syrup than oats? No, thanks! And what is D-Alpha-Tocopherol Acetate and where can I get some??
2. It’s fresh and perishable.
Sure, some things are much more perishable than others. Grains, dried beans, spices, honey and other whole and natural products don’t spoil quickly– but they do eventually spoil. A good rule of thumb is to eat only items that will eventually spoil.
3. It’s customizable.
Ever had a store-bought snack that you thought was just too salty or too sweet? When you make your own snacks, you can tweak all that! It’s so much fun. If you’re in a chocolate mood, add chocolate chunks! Dried fruit or nuts? Throw them in! The possibilities are endless.
In case you can’t already tell, I’m so excited to share these bars with you. They are:
All right, on to the recipe. I should add that when it comes to using dates in cooking, you really need a sturdy blender or food processor. It’s somewhat bad news because I know that some people don’t own these appliances. If you just don’t have access but still really want to make granola bars, I recommend this basic rolled-oats granola bar recipe. I’ve never tried it with steel-cut oats, but it’s pretty good!
5 Ingredient Granola Bars with Dates, Almond Butter and Steel-Cut Oats
Ingredients (for about 10 bars):
1 cup of moist dates (try medjool), pitted
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
1/4 cup almond butter
1.5 cups steel-cut oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or topping of your choice)
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt and mix the almond butter and honey until combined. Do not let it boil.
After pitting your dates, place them in your food processor (or sturdy blender) along with the warm almond butter- honey mixture. Blend until combined and no large chunks of dates remain.
Scoop out the blended mixture into a bowl and add the steel-cut oats. If you have a stand mixer (or high-quality electric mixer), I strongly recommend using it now. If not, use a wooden paddle or your hands if necessary. Stir the contents of the bowl until combined into a dough-like mixture.
Prepare an 8×8 square pan (or other similar-sized pan of your choice) by lining it with either plastic wrap or parchment paper. Press the granola mixture evenly into the pan with your fingers, making sure it’s relatively the same depth all around.
Add your cranberries evenly on top. Push them into the sticky mixture so that they don’t fall off. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for best results before cutting.
Once chilled, the bars will be pretty firm and easier to cut. Lift them from the pan and remove the lining you used, placing the large granola bar onto a wooden cutting board. Slice into bars (carefully!).
To store, you can keep these refrigerated in an airtight container or wrapped individually in plastic wrap, ready to go. These should last about 1 week– but they won’t because they’re so delicious!