The kids are back in school! I mostly mean your kids, since I only have one kid that is school-age, and by school-age I really mean pre-kindergarten age 😉 Anyway, it’s September and that means people are looking for back-to-school snacks that are easy to make, nutritious, and won’t end up in the garbage can at school (not that I EVER did that….I’m talking to you, bologna sandwich).
I know a lot of schools have nut-free policies, which makes the homemade treat game a bit trickier. Most of the granola bar recipes I’ve come to know and love incorporate some sort of nut butter as a binding agent, or else they’re loaded with tons of butter and sugar. It has taken me quite a few crumbly messes in the kitchen and a LOT of granola-bar-fail-turned-granola eating to nail down a recipe that fits all of my criteria. I’m happy to report I’ve got a winner. These granola bars check all of the boxes!
-free of refined sugars (if you don’t count the chocolate chips)
-no-bake and EASY to make
-they stay together and don’t crumble apart
-delicious and totally customizable
-my kids eat them!!
I’m so happy with these bars! They have the texture of a store-bought granola bar, but without all of the junk. I’m already imagining all sorts of mix-ins I can add to switch these up to keep them interesting for the boys.
The magic of medjool dates is what keeps these bars soft and chewy, and a mixture of pumpkin seed butter with honey creates a nice, sweet binding agent. Pumpkin seed butter on its own isn’t my favourite, but mixed with honey it’s delicious!
After mixing all of the ingredients together, you will need to use a fair bit of muscle to disperse the dates into the granola. I use a large wooden spoon! When you pack the mixture into the baking pan, pack it WELL. I use a lot of force to press it all down! This will ensure the bars keep together.
I don’t know how it is where you live, but here it is COLD and rainy. It’s been gloomy for what feels like forever and I’m missing the sun and summer! I feel like we’re getting cheated out of one of my favourite times of year!
I’m looking forward to feeling the sun on my face again, and the crunch of the leaves under my feet. I see some warmer days in the forecast for next week, so for now I’ll hunker down with another cup of coffee and one of these granola bars!
Nut-Free Chewy Granola Bars
Yield 12 bars
Soft and chewy nut-free granola bars that are safe to take to school, free of refined sugars and ACTUALLY delicious! They're also no bake and totally customizable.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 tbsp. wheat germ (or flax)
- 1 cup packed medjool dates, pitted (8 or 9)
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup honey (or agave)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seed butter
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out the rolled oats and wheat germ. Place in the oven for 15 minutes to lightly toast the oats.
- While the oats are toasting, place the dates in a food processor and pulse until a soft ball is formed.
- In a large bowl, mix together the chia seeds, cinnamon and oats/wheat germ. In another bowl, add the honey and pumpkin seed butter and microwave for 30 seconds, stirring until smooth.
- Use a large wooden spoon to mix the dates into the dry ingredients, then add the honey/pumpkin seed butter. Stir together until everything is mixed together and then add the pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
- Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, then empty the granola mixture into it. Using a spatula or wet hands, pack the mixture down firmly into the dish. Make sure you use a lot of force to pack it all down, as this will keep the bars together. Place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before removing the bars from the pan and cutting into 12 equal pieces.
Keep the bars in an airtight container on the counter for 1 week, or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks The bars can also be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.