Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dried fruit and cereal snack bars

easy, healthy dried fruit and cereal snack bars

I really don't think you can have too many recipes for snack bars. I mean, really: What other food can stealthily morph from a grab-and-go breakfast to energy bar to sweet dessert, all in one day and without changing shoes?

(You know The Ninj loves stealthy food, especially snacks. And shoes.)

Mind you, this snack bar should not be confused with either a rice krispy treat (too sweet) or a granola bar (too, well, granola-y). It is neither, yet it is both.

I love that it is loaded with dried fruits, nuts and grains yet still offers enough sweetness to seem more like a treat. And the puffed cereal provides just enough chewy-crunchiness to round out the whole dealy.

Oh, hold the phone: DID I MENTION IT'S A NO-BAKE BAR?


You will definitely want to keep these bars in the fridge, rather than at room temperature, so the chocolate (yes, there's chocolate in there, too!) doesn't get too melty. I wrapped them individually so I could easily pop them into lunch boxes or take one with me to nosh on after my yoga class.

You can also freeze them and thaw at room temperature whenever you need a little pick-me-up.

I adapted this recipe from Alana Chernila's Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, which regular readers will know is one of my absolute favorite books (if you liked my best-evah cornbread or fruit-and-nut chocolate bark, you must buy a copy of this book for yourself). Feel free to mix up the types of fruits and nuts that you use: I went with dried sour cherries and prunes (SUCH a great combination!) along with almonds and pepitas (OK, not really nuts, but you get my drift), but substitutions are encouraged, based on what you and your family love.

And another cool thing? When you heat the wet ingredients to boiling, the mixture thickens and foams until it almost resembles and slightly smells like the buttery marshmallow mixture of the traditional rice crispy treat -- yet without all the overprocessed sweetness.

easy, healthy dried fruit and cereal snack bars

Do you have a favorite healthy snack bar recipe? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Dried Fruit and Cereal Snack Bars (adapted from Homemade Pantry)

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped prunes
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup pepitas (unsalted)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 - 1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine the first 8 ingredients (oats through chips) in large bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients (oil through vanilla) to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring very frequently, over medium to medium-high heat, then stir constantly for a minute (the mixture will get very thick and foamy). Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well-coated.

Dump the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, using your hands to pack it down and get it into all the corners. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then turn out onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Store in the fridge or wrap for the freezer.

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