No-Bake Granola Bars
The other day while I was having my breakfast (overnight chia oat pudding, btw) I suddenly craved for homemade granola. Toasted nuts with a sweet touch of maple syrup, dried fruits, puffed grains...so good!
But then I started thinking what's the difference between granola and muesli because, honestly, sometimes it's really hard to see that difference. You see those so called 'healthy' bars at the store and they all look the same to me. So I googled 'granola vs muesli' and now I think I can finally say what are the main ingredients of each one.
Okay so...granola and muesli are both oat-based. Muesli is consumed raw and contains oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Granola is made with oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits like muesli but the mixture also includes grains like quinoa (wait, quinoa is actually a seed but whatever), rice and everything is tossed with some kind of fat (oil, butter, etc), and sweetened with sugar or honey. Then it's baked until it forms crunchy clusters.
I've heard that granola is the fat sister of muesli because it usually is higher in sugars, fats and calories; but that's not true: if you make your own granola at home you can always choose to add less fat (or not fat at all) and zero refined sugar by using maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar and dried fruits that add natural sweetness.
These granola bars I bring you today are my latest obsession because they are not only delicious and packed with lots of healthy energy, fiber and nutrients; it's also a super easy recipe that allows you to add your favorite nuts, try with different kind of puffed grains (my fave is quinoa!) and make as many combinations as you wish! Plus you won't need to turn on the oven. Play with ingredients, try different types of natural sweeteners, nut butters and choose your favorite bar.
The addition of natural peanut butter gives the ultimate touch of deliciousness to my bars and they are officially my favorite on-the-go snack; perfect for those days that seem to be endless and you need to boost your energy levels with something yummy yet good for you.
Receta en español aquí!
No-Bake Granola Bars
(yield: 12 bars)
1 cup medjool dates.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
1/4 cup homemade natural peanut butter.
1 1/4 cups rolled oats.
1/4 cup puffed quinoa.
1 cup mix of nuts, coarsely chopped.*
1/4 cup dried cranberries.
Dash of cinnamon.
Optional: a small handful of cacao nibs to decorate on top.
* I used the following mix of raw nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts and pistachios.
Play with proportions and use your favorite nuts.
I saved some extra chunks of pistachios, cranberries and cacao nibs to decorate the top of the dough once it's placed inside the pan and right before pressing it down.
Place dates inside the bowl of your food processor and pulse until the dates are completely processed and form a sticky paste-like dough. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat stir together maple syrup and peanut butter until it becomes pourable.
In a large mixing bowl place oats, puffed quinoa, nuts and dried cranberries; stir together. Add in date 'dough'.
Pour over the warm maple/peanut butter mixture and mix with a spatula (because the mixture could still be a bit too hot to touch with your hands). I recommend to work the dough with your hands to ensure all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and the date dough makes the stick together.
Transfer the dough to an 8x8-inch brownie pan (20x20cm) lined with parchment paper; leaving an extra inch overhanging each end so you can use this extra piece of paper as handles to easily lift the dough out of the pan.
Firmly press down the dough until it's flattened and add some extra chunks of pistachios, dried cranberries and cacao nibs, also pressing them down.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it hardens, around 30 minutes.
Lift out the dough and divide it into 12 bars.
Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to one week.