When you know it's gonna be a long day; when you won't get much time for a real meal; when you don't want to reach for the all too easy cheap fix, you can count on these nut and seed bars to restore the spring in your step, and do it in a righteous way. I'm calling them Righteous Snack Bars. And for being gluten free and low glycemic, they win a spot on my favorite snack list. A spin on the famous Kind Bars, these are even kinder, because you can quickly make them for a fraction of the cost! How righteous indeed!
This recipe is a template for creating your own variations. The only necessary ingredient is the puffed rice or quinoa cereal that serves as an airy foundation, lest your bars become a dense overload and more like a confection. Regarding the brown rice syrup, because of it's unique thickness (more like liquid glass), it produces bars that are drier than those made with other syrupy sweeteners, and that's a good thing. Honey, maple syrup and agave will render the bars stickier and make for a messy eating experience. I stick with brown rice syrup...pardon the pun!
Here are few ideas to get your imagination going:
Snappy Ginger Bars: add chopped candied ginger for a portion (or all) of the dried fruit, and add ginger spice to the wet ingredients after heated. (These may be a bit sweeter because of the added sugar used to crystallize the ginger...but once in a while it's okay!)
Totally Nuts Bars: skip the dried fruit altogether by subbing in nuts and seeds to make a power packed, barely sweet, mega nut bar. Spice it up with a little extra salt, curry, chili and turmeric powder for even more zip!
Cinnamon Apple Walnut Bars: use chopped dried apples and raisins, with cinnamon in the heated mix.
Hawaiian Bars: use dried pineapple and mango with chopped macadamia nuts
Cocoa Peanut Bars: Add cocoa nibs and chopped peanuts to the nut portion, use peanut butter as the nut butter. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate...oooooh, now we're talkin'!
Now you're ready to create you own variations! How about a "Whatever I have On Hand Bar"?!
1 1/2 cup puffed brown rice or quinoa cereal
1 1/2 cup nuts and/or seeds, any type or combination
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (I used dates here)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tb chia seed or ground flax seed
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup nut butter, peanuts butter, almond butter, etc
1/4 tsp salt, only if the nuts you have added are unsalted
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/2-1 tsp spices (optional), like cinnamon, ginger, etc
Line an 8" square baking dish with parchment paper, or wax paper.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
In a small saucepan, stir together the rice syrup, nut butter and salt (and spices, if using). On medium heat, bring the mix to a low simmer and stir for 2 minutes, reducing the heat to low. Remove from heat. If you are adding vanilla, whisk in now.
Pour the hot mixture over the dry ingredients and immediately stir before it seizes up; it'll get very thick! Pour into prepared pan and press. I cover it with another piece of parchment and press with the heel of my hand. Refrigerate for an hour or two. Lift from pan and cut into bars.