Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars: Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, and Vegan!

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival! In celebration of Autumn and Halloween, today we're sharing recipe ideas for healthy treats, or anything you would enjoy this time of year.

Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.

Granola bars and other hearty grab-and-go snacks are an essential part of my family's food stash. I started making them at home many months ago, partly because the price of the pre-packaged variety is so high.

The other reason I decided to start making them at home is that I wanted to be able to have more say in the ingredients involved: grains and additives in particular (due to my gluten and soy sensitivities), as well as sugars. What better way to accomplish those things than to make granola bars from scratch!

There was just one problem, though: Jaymz prefers the taste of dried fruit and nut "trail mix" type bars, but I prefer the more dessert-like, chocolaty ones. (What's wrong with him, right!? Who doesn't like a little extra chocolate in their day?) So we came up with two different types of granola bars to satisfy our different preferences, and I'm sharing the "Amy Bar" here today.

In my search for chocolatey granola bars, I came across this recipe, which I have modified quite a bit (to be free of gluten, sugar, soy, and many others). My recipe is simple, easy, and quick—no baking required! And, if you or any of your family members have tree nut allergies, I've included easy substitutions for a nut-free version. (Please see * for substitutions.)

You will need:

  • 1 cup gluten-free oats (not instant or quick oats) 
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut 
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed meal or almond meal
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • ¼ cup coconut oil 
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  •  cup (raw local) honey (alternatively, brown rice syrup or maple syrup, if you're into that)
  • 2 Tablespoons (organic fair trade) cocoa powder
*For nut-free version, simply substitute sunbutter in place of peanut butter, use ½ cup shredded coconut and skip the almonds!

Here's how:

  • Combine the oats, flaxseed meal, coconut, almonds, and chia seeds in a bowl and mix together:
    Seriously, how delicious (and good-for-you) does that look!

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut oil, honey, peanut butter, and cocoa powder, stirring until everything has melted together thoroughly.

    (A handy trick to get honey to slide right out of your measuring cup: spray the measuring cup with cooking spray prior to pouring the honey in—works every time!)

  • Turn off the heat, and then pour the bowl of dry ingredients right into the saucepan with the chocolaty mixture and stir it all together:

  • Line a 9x11 baking dish with parchment paper (or freezer paper, if that's what you have on hand).

  • Pour the freshly mixed granola mixture out into the lined pan. (Ok, I admit that it's not really pouring when there's a lump of granola involved. Dump the granola out of the bowl into the pan.)

  • Using the back of a spoon (or simply your hands), press the granola mixture into the pan and out to all four corners so that it becomes a flat mass of granola. Level out the top so it's pretty.

  • Chill the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so. (I usually just leave ours in there until I remember them much later in the day.) The granola bars need to be pretty cold in order to be able to cut them easily.

  • Retrieve your granola. Using a table knife, slice the block of granola into bars (whatever size and shape you like). I usually cut once along the length (down the middle) and then I cut each of those into 8-10 bars.

  • Store your granola bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  • Eat up!

I absolutely love these granola bars, and they're prefect to satisfy my sweet tooth without overloading my body with refined sugar and processed additives.

The oats make them filling, and the almonds provide protein to give me long-lasting energy from a quick snack. The coconut and coconut oil provide healthy fats to feed my brain and body. The chia seeds and flax both provide protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, and fiber.

I always feel good about giving one of these to Daniel when he requests some chocolate: he's getting so many valuable nutrients from these granola bars, and he'll happily gobble one up without thinking twice!

Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. (The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.)

Stay connected! Be sure to "Like" the 
Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.


  1. I love this recipe!!!!! In 6 months I will be able to eat these ingredients and you can bet that I am making up a batch of these. Anything will chia seeds, coconut, and honey has my name all over it!

    1. I can't wait for you to try them. Here's to good health and a quick six months!

  2. There are so many similarities between this and our 'chocolatey balls' as Ameli calls them! Yours look like they hold their shape better though? I was thinking of investing in a cold pressing machine, but then realised I may as well buy the bars for the cost involved then ;) Definitely going to try it with your recipe though - variety being the spice of life and all!

    1. I hope you do try them! They do hold shape pretty well, especially if you keep them in the refrigerator. If you hold one in your hands for a while, it does (naturally) begin to melt a bit. =)

  3. I'm a total sucker for a delicious healthy + chocolate-y granola bar - and bonus it's gluten free! Thanks so much :) Can't wait to make these.

    1. Me too! It's hard for me to pass up a delicious chocolaty treat, but the lack of refined sugar in these means that I don't feel awful after eating them. I hope you'll come back and let me know what you think after you make them!

  4. a thousand thank you's for this!! I didn't know about this carnival, but I'm going to go visit every single post!
    Yippee! Just what I needed to brighten my day.
    I'm definitely making these.
    I need to get chia seeds. Looks like you ahve a link. going there now.

    1. You're welcome! I am a chia seed convert, for sure. I put them in granola bars, yogurt, oatmeal...I hope you'll give them a try!

  5. I love the look of these! I need to try them for sure. :) I was looking for some granola bars that fit my dietary requirements, and you're right that it's challenging. I love the idea of crafting our own!

    1. It really is difficult to find granola bars in the store that aren't loaded with a bunch of processed ingredients. I recommend KIND bars if you haven't checked those out yet—they're mostly fruit and nuts, and they're delicious!

  6. Thank for sharing how to make this great Snack I can eat that every day.

  7. Would it work to use coconut sugar insteas of honey/syrup?

    1. I haven't yet tried it with coconut sugar, but I suspect that it would work just as well. I will give it a try soon and let you know! (Or if you try it out, please let me know. =)

  8. Hi Amy,

    I was wondering how long these keep for unrefrigerated? I'm going on a long road trip and would love to make a batch as long as they'd last a while.



    1. Hi Colin! I'd be more concerned about them melting outside of the refrigerator for a long time rather than spoiling.

      If I was going to make them for a long road trip, I'd either try to keep them a little chilled (with an ice pack or the like) or I'd make them with a slightly higher ratio of oats, so they might stick together better without melting in the car. These bars basically need to be treated like you would any chocolate bar: don't set them out in the sun, but they should be OK sitting in a cool location for a while.

      Hope that helps, and safe travels to you!

  9. In your almond milk recipe you say what the almond meal left over from making almond milk can be used for other things. I then went to your chocolate peanut butter granola bar recipe but there is no ingredient for almond meal, except as a substitution for flax seed meal - but you do have slivered almonds. If substituting almond meal for the peanut butter can I leave out the slivered almonds.
    Can the almond meal be used instead of peanut butter.

    1. Almond meal and flax seed meal can be used interchangeably in this recipe. I wrote it up that way so that you could use whichever one you have on hand. =)

      Almond meal would not be a good substitute for peanut butter, as it is very dry and in this recipe the nut butter helps to hold the granola bars together. Hope that helps!

    2. Can you use the almond mill from the almond milk in place of the slivered almonds or has it lost some of the nutrients you would get from the slivered almonds?

  10. These look amazing! I was wondering, do you have any idea what the carb count works out to be per serving? Thanks!

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