There are certain, unnamed nut bars out there that used to be my go-to snack until one day I realized that a) I was spending way too much money on them, and b) they weren't really that great for me, health-wise. They have a boatload of sugar, a bunch of filler additives, and ingredients I would have to Google to understand.
So a little under a year ago, I tried my hand at making my own nut bars and I discovered that a homemade version is not only better for the wallet, but as an added bonus, I can completely control what I put into them. That means less sugar, less sodium, and a lot more of the good, nutritious stuff.
It took some experimenting with different nuts, dried fruits, sweeteners, and spices to get the amounts correct, but soon I had a personal stash of healthful snack bars. They are the kind of thing I make on a Sunday afternoon and snack on all week.
These bars lend themselves to different flavor combinations. Gear them towards your personal preferences by trying various nuts, spices, fruits, and grains, as well as sweet or savory varieties. I personally love the combination of dark chocolate, sea salt, and roasted nuts -- those flavors provide me with a sweet yet wholesome snack that doesn't leave me with a crazy sugar high.
1 cup raw almonds 1 cup raw cashews 1 cup raw walnuts 1/3 cup raw buckwheat groats 1/3 cup puffed quinoa 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw honey 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 3 tablespoons chocolate A nub of coconut oil Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (Maldon is my favorite)
Preheat oven to 350° F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare an 8 3/4- by 12 1/4-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside for later. Make sure the parchment hangs over the side -- this will make lifting the bars out easier later on.
On the large baking sheet, combine the almonds, cashews and walnuts.
Toast the nuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Roughly chop the nuts in a food processor in batches, then reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped nuts, buckwheat groats, puffed quinoa, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Stir to combine.
Mix in the honey and stir for one minute; the mixture will be thick and sticky. (If your honey isn't runny, zap it in the microwave for a couple of seconds until it runs off the back of a spoon.)
Transfer the mixture to the prepared jelly roll pan. Using the back of a spatula, evenly press the nut mixture into the pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Then, place the whole pan in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes -- this makes the process of cutting them into bars easier.
Using the parchment "wings," lift the solid mixture from the pan and place on a flat workspace.
With a sharp knife, cut the bars in half lengthwise and crosswise, then cut each section into four bars until you have 16 pieces.
In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil over simmering water; stir until melted.
Remove from heat and use a fork to drizzle the runny chocolate over bars. Let the chocolate set, then sprinkle with the flaky sea salt.
Store in an airtight container for one week. If your house runs on the warm side, store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Lindsey S. Love is a food blogger living in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. Her cooking and baking focus on healthful gluten free and dairy free, with occasional vegan recipes. You can follow her at dollyandoatmeal.com for additional recipes.