Question, what do you feed a mob of hungry kids at 3:17 p.m. after "working really hard all day long at school"?
Answer: Home made Chocolate Cherry Chunk Bars served with a big glass of ice cold milk and sealed with a kiss. Love mom.
You all know by know that store bought granola bars are not health food right? Right. Well, anything made in Mystery, Who Knows Where and packaged in a box with an ingredient list only chemists can decipher is probably not something we should be eating, however convenient it may be. I hate that excuse. Sure it can be argued that there are a few healthier varieties of packaged snacks out there but the whole year or more shelf life thing of a granola bar disturbs me.
I literally tossed a handful of ingredients in a bowl, mixed, pressed into a baking dish and bam. My house smells like toasted, cinnamony oats and nuts and warm cherries. Oh, they were really yummy too.
Snack emergency, solved.
The best part, you can use whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruit you have in your pantry. Substitute almond butter for sunflower seed butter if there is a nut allergy issue. Pureed dates or maple syrup can be used instead of honey. The possibilities are endless.
Chocolate Cherry Chunk Oat, Nut and Seed Bars
TIME 30 MINUTES YIELDS 14-16 BARS
1 1/2 cups of whole grain oats
1 1/2 cup chopped almonds, cashews or other nuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup local, Organic honey
*1/4 cup hemp hearts (optional)
1 cup almond or sunflower butter
1 teaspoon ground (Saigon) cinnamon
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
parchment paper or coconut oil for brushing pan
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8 x 11 baking dish with parchment or brush with coconut oil.
Coarsely chop nuts. Add them and remaining ingredients except chocolate chips to a large bowl and mix to combine.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan using your hands or a spatula. Cook for 15 minutes then pull out of oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips, cook for another 15 minutes. Yes, you can just mix them into the batter if you please. We thought they looked fun and had more chocolate 'power' with them scattered on top.
Hemp Hearts are full of protein with 10 grams of complete plant-based protein per 30 gram (3 tablespoons) serving size. Hemp Hearts are also a great way to add omegas or EFAs (essential fatty acids) to your diet. Hemp Hearts contain more protein and Omega-6 & 3 and less carbs than a similar serving of Chia or Flax.
You can eat them right out of the bag and add them to baked goods, yogurt, smoothies, salads and more.
I love Coaches Oats which are much healthier than quick cooking varieties yet faster than steel cut.