No-Bake Muesli Energy Bars with Almond Butter

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds

It’s a gorgeous day here – blue skies, breezy, warm but not hot, and no humidity. I’ve gone for a bike ride, bought strawberries at the farmers market, picked up my books from the library, walked about, and now I’m blogging and eating maca chocolate. In other words, utter perfection. Let all summer days be like this, says I!

I’m almost finished my program at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition, and admittedly that’s why you haven’t seen many blog posts in recent months. But this beautiful day just sang to me and said, Emily, steal away a few moments and write something on the blog. So here I am.no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 3

This part of July is where summer really kicks into a higher gear. The farmers’ market is starting to show its colours – spring rhubarb is still available, but the strawberries are there, and soon I’ll see peaches, tomatoes, corn, and zucchinis overflowing on the tables. My own little farm here (I use the term ‘farm’ extremely loosely) has thus far produced 2 blueberries, 4 raspberries, and some purple podded peas. A tiny harvest, but a satisfying one. I can see the raspberries slowly turning from that light pinkish colour to the deeper red, so soon I’ll return to that glorious time when there are raspberries to eat every day when I come home from work.

It’s a nice time to be alive, isn’t it?

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 2

To keep your energy up through the biking, walking, jam-making, hammock-reading, blueberry-picking, running, mowing, weeding, harvesting, swimming, kombucha-drinking, or whatever you have on the go this summer, whip up some of these energy bars (finally, I’m getting to the recipe!). They’re simple, offer protein, fibre, and healthy fat, and you can make them either as energy balls/bites or just press them into the pan and make granola bars. They’re best right from the fridge (structural integrity relies on the coldness of the coconut oil), but if you don’t mind eating them more as a melted crumble, tote them to the beach! Why not?

And of course, they require no oven, so the only breeze and warmth you feel will be that of the summer sun, wafting through your open windows.

Happy July!

No-Bake Muesli Energy Bites with Almond Butter

Recipe Notes: option for gluten-free (use gluten-free oats), option for plant-based (maple syrup instead of honey), dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups muesli (basically oats with a bit of dried fruit added – plain rolled oats are fine too)
  • 1/2 shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions: 

  1. Whirl the muesli, coconut, seeds of choice, chocolate chips, and dried fruit of choice in your food processor until you’ve turned it into very small bits, or almost flour. The dried fruit will remain in larger pieces – this is totally fine. The chocolate might also stay in bigger chunks – also totally fine, and in fact, quite delicious.
  2. Dump this mix into a large bowl.
  3. In a small sauce pan and over very low heat, gently whisk together almond butter, raw honey, coconut oil, pink salt, and vanilla extract until smooth and a bit pourable.
  4. Pour over the dry mix and stir until all dry parts are well coated and mixture holds its shape when squeezed into a ball.
  5. Roll into balls or press into an 8×8 pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge. For best shape, eat right from the fridge or keep cool.

© Backyard Owl

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Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies (with Teff Flour)

chocolate chunk nut butter blondies with teff flour

Are you enamored with teff flour yet? I am! Teff flour is my new baking darling. Making cookies? Teff flour. Making brownies? Teff flour. Making snack bars? Heck, yes, teff flour!

Even the Globe and Mail is publishing full page articles extolling the virtues of teff, and when the Globe and Mail gets on board, you know teff is making it mainstream. According to the Globe, teff is great for iron, protein, and fibre. Particularly of note, teff’s fibre comprises a lot of resistant starch, a particular kind of starch that resists digestion in your small intestine. This starch makes it into your large intestine and is turned, by the bacteria there, into good stuff for your body (basically it feeds the bacteria and they turn it into short-chain fatty acids). All very positive.

Teff has been called the endurance grain, the stamina grain, the energy grain, and more. Or maybe those are names I’ve made up. Either way, consensus is that teff should be in your diet prontissimo.

chocolate chunk nut butter blondies with teff flour

So let’s talk blondie bars. Also, don’t get too excited, but I’m going to be trying teff BROWNIES soon. Yes and yes.

But back to the blondies. These are another very easy intro recipe for teff. Easy to make gluten-free, simple ingredients, and really pretty forgiving. You can’t go wrong with nut butter and chocolate chunks in anything. You can’t teff this up.

The original recipe is from Vegan Richa; I just upped the teff factor. I took them to the office for a farewell party and my sister called them “the best bars ever”. They would make an awesome lunch snack (we are in the back to school zone) or a tasty and healthy-ish option for a work snack shindig.

Enjoy! Also I promise I’ll stop with the teff play on words very soon. I’ve pretty much run out of ideas anyways.

chocolate chunk nut butter blondies with teff flour

Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies (with Teff Flour)

  • Author: Original recipe from Vegan Richa; tweaks by Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, oil-free

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablepoons non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablepoon flax seed meal or ground chia
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter or other smooth nut butter (I used a mix of almond and peanut)
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 cup  + 2 tablespoons coconut flour (or more teff, if you don’t have coconut flour)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate chunks

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, flax/chia, maple syrup, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Stir in nut butter until completely combined.
  4. In a separate bowl medium-sized bowl, whisk together teff and coconut flours, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until well-combined (without, you know, stirring the thing to oblivion).
  6. Spread batter into a (very lightly) greased 8×8 pan and bake for 18-25 minutes, depending on your oven’s hotness. They should pull away from the edges of the pan just slightly and look dry on top.

© Backyard Owl

Easy No-Bake Almond Butter Protein Bars with Chocolate and Coconut – v, gf

homemade chocolate almond butter protein barsI love a good vegan protein bar. Convenient, tasty, and portable, they can sometimes be the perfect answer to “me so hungry.”

But, it’s easy to start relying on them to fill in the gaps, well, just about everywhere. After the gym, as an afternoon snack, in place of supper, and so on.

It’s an expensive habit, and in the end, still a processed, manufactured product, meaning: not as good for you as real, whole foods. That said, if I can find a way to make a more “whole foods” version of a protein bar, I’m not going to say no.

homemade chocolate almond butter protein barsThese bars are made with almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, chia seeds, almonds, cocoa powder, dates, raw vegan protein powder, and dark chocolate. Calgon, take me away.

As with most other bars (like my cookie dough protein bars or chia energy bites), the premise is simple. Whir a bunch of stuff in a food processor, mix some other stuff in a bowl, and then melt some dark chocolate as the finisher.

I’ve tried to include enough protein sources (nuts, seeds, protein powder) to make this a reasonable source of protein. If you’re noshing on it after a workout, you want it to provide the required amino acids.

So give these a try and see what you think. They have great flavour, hold together really nicely, and look really pretty.

homemade chocolate almond butter protein bars.3

Easy No-Bake Almond Butter Protein Bars with Chocolate and Coconut

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, no-bake, soy-free (depending on protein powder), naturally-sweetened (also depends on protein powder)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds, whole or ground
  • 2-4 scoops protein powder (I use a raw, rice-based protein powder that is sweetened with stevia)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons maca powder (optional)
  • pinch Himalayan pink salt (to balance the sweetness of the protein powder)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, soft
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, whir together oats and cashews until finely ground. Add dates, and process until a moist paste forms.
  2. Press into an 8×8 square pan.
  3. In the same (now empty) food processor, process almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, and cocoa powder. Whir in protein powder, salt, maca powder, and chia seeds. Mix until the paste is smooth and mostly uniform (pieces of coconut will remain).
  4. Pour this mix on top of the prepared crust. Sprinkle with flaked coconut.
  5. Put in the fridge to firm up.
  6. In the meantime, melt 1 teaspoon coconut oil and chocolate chips over a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl sitting over a pot of boiling water). Drizzle over top of firmed up bars.
  7. Cut into squares (whatever your desired size) and store in the fridge.

© Backyard Owl

No-Bake Seedy Granola Bars with Brown Rice Syrup and Almond Butter (v, gf)

no bake seedy granola bars with pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dark chocolateI’ve talked about granola bars before on the blog – my Twice Baked Oat and Raisin Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate – so perhaps it will come as a surprise that I’ve venturing into granola bar territory again. Why this enduring granola bar fascination?

Well, to my mind, the granola bar is among the ultimate in portable snacks.

Portable, customizable snacks.

Portable, customizable, healthy snacks.

Okay, last one: portable, customizable, healthy, and easy to make snacks. To wit:

no bake seedy granola bars with pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dark chocolate.2Portable: in a bag, in brown paper, in tupperware, or in any other snack conveyance, granola bars can go with you on any adventure you desire. They work as a post-gym snack, a travel snack, a just-in-case snack, a work snack, a quick lunch with some fruit or a green smoothie, and so on.

Customizable: I see every recipe as a template, just waiting to be tailored to individual taste preferences. So below, where I suggest pumpkin seeds, use walnuts, if you prefer. Or double the fruit and leave out the seeds. Or, if you don’t like chocolate in your recipes (gasp!), substitute more nuts or seeds, or more dried fruit. Go modification crazy! Just try to avoid radically changing the total quantity of stuff that needs to be coated with the brown rice syrup/almond butter caramel. That’s where you’ll run into trouble.

no bake seedy granola bars with pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and raisinsHealthy: healthy options come in a variety of forms. Sometimes an apple is best, or a green smoothie; other times, you need something with a bit of protein, some complex carbs, and some tasty dark chocolate. So that’s what I mean about granola bars being healthy – they contain complex carbs, and some healthy fats, protein, and fibre, and those are the keys to making a snack that will power you through.

These particular bars also use golden, caramelly brown rice syrup, which is one of the few sweeteners that I can trust to keep my blood sugar level – no spikes, no drops. They are also full of: pumpkin seeds (zinc), sesame seeds (calcium), raisins (antioxidants), and shredded coconut (healthy medium chain fatty acids). It’s all so good!

Easy to Make: the whole point of the homemade granola bar is that you throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, stir it around, squish it in a pan, and then either bake it or call it a day. I’m not sure what could be easier than that except, of course, the aforementioned piece of fresh fruit.

So let’s get to the recipe!

Let's also pay homage for a moment to brown rice syrup. Caramelly and not-to-sweet, brown rice syrup is one of the few sweeteners out there that I can count on to keep my blood sugar level - no spikes, no drops.  And don't be worried by the quantity of almond butter. I know, one cup is a lot. But this recipe makes serious granola bars, of which only a small amount is required for snacking sustenance

No-Bake Seedy Granola Bars with Brown Rice Syrup and Almond Butter

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, soy-free, nut-free option

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 cup almond butter (the more liquidy, the better; also note you can use any nut/seed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups puffed quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened SHREDDED COCONUT
  • 1/2 cup SESAME SEEDS
  • 1/4 cup PUMPKIN SEEDS
  • 1/2 cup RAISINS
  • 3/4 cup CHOCOLATE CHIPS (vegan dark chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 glass pan with coconut oil.
  2. Measure together brown rice syrup, almond butter, pink salt, and vanilla, and warm gently in a pan over low heat, just until a bit more pourable.
  3. In a (very!) large bowl, stir together oats, puffed quinoa, cinnamon, coconut, seeds, fruit, and dark chocolate chips.
  4. Pour almond butter caramel over oat/seed/fruit mix and stir well, until everything is coated with the brown rice syrup/nut butter mix. You might need to use hands for this, friends. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
  5. Scoop the mixture into the greased 9×13 pan.
  6. Press the mix firmly (as firmly as you can) into the pan. Cut into bars now or as you go. Keep in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.

© 2014 Backyard Owl

 

 

Easy Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups (vegan, gluten-free)

Sweets for the sweet!

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups

I could probably just leave it at that, but I’ve never been that good at brevity, so let me add that these dark chocolate almond butter cups are everything you might want in a special treat: cinnamon-y, chocolate-y, nutty, a touch salty. Are visions of sugarplums dancing in your head? They should be. These aren’t exactly the neatest of kitchen experiments, but you just have to embrace the mess, and recognize that the drips and drizzles are part of what make these a loving handcrafted treat – perhaps a gift for someone special for Valentine’s Day, or perhaps a gift for yourself (since you are someone special too).

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter CupsThe premise is simple: pour some melted chocolate into the bottom of a silicone or paper-lined mini-muffin tin, spoon some almond butter filling in once the chocolate has firmed a little, and then spoon some more melted chocolate on top. Then, sprinkle with some sea salt. Once firm (using the chilling benefits of either your local fridge or freezer), pop them out, and you’re done!

Easy Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups

  • Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups200 g dark chocolate (if you run short, you can melt more; if you have too much, just let it cool and you have hard chocolate again)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup natural almond butter
  • 1/4 cup light or regular coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler (or some kind of approximation, like a metal bowl that sits atop a pot of boiling water).
  2. Once chocolate is melted, gently stir in ground cinnamon.
  3. Fill silicone mini muffin tin with muffin liners or leave empty, depending on your preference for ruffled or smooth edges. Place on top of a baking sheet, for easy transport.
  4. Once melted, pour some chocolate into each muffin space, and gently brush or swirl up around the edges. If the chocolate is too warm, let cool briefly and then do the swirl. You might have to brush the chocolate up the edges more than once, to ensure a thick enough chocolate encasement. Place in the fridge to firm up. Ensure you have enough melted chocolate leftover for the tops.Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups
  5. While chocolate is firming, whisk coconut milk and vanilla extract into almond butter until smooth. If you prefer a firmer filling, use slightly less coconut milk.
  6. Plop a small spoonful of filling into each chocolate-filled muffin liner.
  7. Tap the baking sheet a few times on the counter to help the filling settle a bit.
  8. Top muffin liners with remaining melted dark chocolate and tap the muffin tin again. If you see some filling oozing out, who cares? It adds to the handcrafted charm.
  9. Sprinkle sea salt on top, or, let firm slightly, and then add sea salt. Fling it about with the air of a grand chocolateur, which basically you now are.
  10. Once fully firm (in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight), pop out of the silicone pan and tra la, you have beautiful chocolate cups with almond butter filling!
  11. Enjoy, especially with a good cup of tea.

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups