Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nut-Free Granola Bars! (No Bake, Gluten-Free, Vegan)


I've had a number of requests for nut-free granola bars to accommodate those with allergies as well as those who wish to enjoy bars in nut-free environments (perfect for school lunch boxes!).

Peanut (legume) and tree nuts (including: walnuts, almonds, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio and Brazil nuts) are among the most common types of allergies in children and adults and can cause severe and life threatening consequences. These allergies are often lifelong. 

Sesame seed, though not a tree nut, shares similar proteins and is also a rising allergen. 

Both sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) on other hand, are rare allergens.  They form the basis of today's bars along with apricot, soft apple, ground flaxseed and oatmeal.  These bars are no-bake, dairy free, egg free and gluten free so I'm hoping that the vast majority of those who suffer from common food allergies can enjoy them.  As an added bonus, they taste remarkably similar to my homemade nut bars (consistently the most popular items at Inspired Edibles ;-) and are loaded with health-building nutrients.  

If you've not yet tried sunflower seed butter, you're in for a real treat! Have fun experimenting and enjoy. 



Nut-Free Granola Bars (No Bake, Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Nut-Free Granola Bars
  • 2 cups (500 mL) 100% pure, uncontaminated, rolled oats***
  • 1 cup (250 mL) diced dried apples, I used Bob's Red Mill
  • 10-12 dried apricots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (125 mL) (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 mL) sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sunflower seed butter
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 mL) pumpkin purée or apple sauce

Serving: Makes Approximately 14-16 bars + leftover batter for granola bites


Notes:
  1. The key to these bars is to ensure the batter is sticky (not wet) before placing them in the pan.  If the batter is dry and crumbly, you can add a little more pumpkin purée or apple sauce or seed butter until desired consistency (sticky!) is achieved.  If you feel the batter is too wet, incrementally add dry ingredients.
  2. These bars do best when stored in a sealed in a container/bag in the freezer.  Do not leave them out on the counter for an extended period of time.  They never fully freeze so it's quite convenient to have them in the freezer.
  3. If you are packing these bars up in a lunchbox, I recommend placing an ice pack under them.  They may end up softening but my boys love them that way too - soft and chewy.
  4. If you are making these bars for someone with sulfite sensitivity (asthmatics are often sulfite sensitive) choose unsulfured apricots.
  5. ***Pure oatmeal does not contain gluten however many commercially sold oats do due to cross-contamination issues. If you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, be sure to seek out certified 'gluten-free' oatmeal.

Directions:
  1. Line an 8"x 8" (or so) baking pan with parchment or wax paper such that the paper hangs over the edges.
  2. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Add maple syrup or agave and pumpkin or apple sauce and mix to combine. 
  4. Add sunflower butter to mixture and mix until combined. 
  5. Place batter in prepared pan pressing down firmly with palm of hands (or mini-roller if you have one) and distributing as evenly as possible.
  6. Allow pan to sit in freezer for approximately 1 hour. 
  7. Remove pan from freezer. Lift singular slab from pan by lifting up on paper. Set slab down and gently peel paper away.  Slice slab diagonally into 7 or 8 long bars and then cut each long bar in half to create a total of 14 or 16 bars.  Store sliced bars in sealed container/bag in the freezer.
© Inspired Edibles

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Love the colors!

Adding in the wet ingredients -- sunflower seed butter
is darker than almond and peanut butter


Make sure the batter is sticky before pressing down firmly 
into the lined pan so that all the ingredients adhere into a singular slab
add a few more colorful pieces of fruit/seed to the top if desired and press down


Take a moment to admire your beautiful and intricate cobblestone pattern ;0)
I think I want this for my kitchen backsplash!


these dried apples are soft, chewy and all natural  
they make a delicious addition to the nut-free bar and help bulk them up

You can roll any extra batter (or the entire batter for that matter)
into balls for granola bites!

32 comments:

  1. JeanettesHealthyLivingSeptember 10, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    Love this healthy snack - the granola bites are a great idea!

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  2. Thank you, Kelly! Trent will appreciate this nut free granola bar!!

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  3. I'm so happy you saw them Heather -- I definitely had your family in mind! I'm also going to feature a nut free baked version later on in the fall with other goodies... :)

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  4. I will try them this week!

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  5. I can see lots of variations to these too. Delicious.

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  6. Though we are not allergic to nuts, we do like to go nut free from time to time. And sunflower and pumpkin seeds are so delicious and nutritious. Both bars and balls are fabulous, Kelly.

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  7. Very nice! Loved the title of your post - only you to come up with that! ;-) - and the backsplash idea for the kitchen... I hope you are not facing kitchen hellnovation, we need bloggers in control of their mental sanity...



    :-)

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  8. Oooh, Kelly these look so good! I'm loving the colours of the apricots and pepitas. Such a nice option to have a nut-free granola bar. I love the little granola balls, too!

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  9. Smart...so many healthy homemade options have
    nuts in them...we need more of this!

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  10. Nice Kelly! I am on my 3rd batch of making your bars! I look fwd to trying these. On my last batch I experimented with roasted oats and drizzling dark chocolate over it. Love them! I see you have oats in these ones below. I love the timing... can't wait to sink my teeth into these! Lynn.

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  11. Sandra @ Kitchen ApparelSeptember 11, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Wow...I was looking at these and thinking how great they look. Then when I saw the words "Nut-Free" I had to take one more look. How amazing!!! I know so many people that have children with nut allergies and I'm pretty sure every granola bar I have ever eaten has nuts in it. How great to have a really awesome nutritious option available. And, I love the idea of using pumpkin puree too :) You are the queen of healthy snack ideas!!!

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  12. It really scares me with all of the allergies that have become prevalent in kids nowadays. When I was in grade school (if I can remember that far back), peanut butter and jelly was served everywhere, at friends houses, in the cafeteria, lunch boxes - you name it. I don't remember anyone being allergic. Now it seems that half of the population is allergic to something. What have we done to our food supply?!?! UGH! Well, on to more pleasant subjects like this granola bars. I don't think I would miss the nuts at all. Look at all of those great seeds and dried fruit! YUM!

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  13. Emilie@TheCleverCarrotSeptember 12, 2013 at 6:49 AM

    Can you start packing my lunches too, Kelly? Your boys are so lucky. These look amazingly delicious. And so thoughtful of you to make them nut-free as well. I would love one of these mid-afternoon when I need a healthy pick-me-up. I'm officially crowning you granola bar (and popsicle!) queen!!! xo

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  14. Oh my God, I knew that... really I did (God knows I eat enough of the stuff!).

    I literally went through the whole post reading "sunflower" as "sesame"... ok, that clears up the confusion then :D.

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  15. Things have changed a great deal and it does call into question many of our practices... If it makes you feel any better ;-), I also grew up in the peanut butter and jelly age (in fact, i'm pretty sure I brought a peanut butter sandwich to school every day) -- my husband still misses them :). This bar tastes pretty much identical to my nut bars -- I don't think I could tell them apart in a blind taste test! :)

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  16. It is kind of neat how you can pretty much fashion a bar out of anything and there are so many delicious, nutritious options out there the possibilities are endless... (and you just know I'm not done exhausting the spectrum - heehee!). The pumpkin puree is fun here, isn't it -- thank you for noticing :)

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  17. Lynn, thanks so much for dropping by -- I'm excited to hear that you have been experimenting with the bars and enjoying them too! Love your variations (as far as I'm concerned, dark chocolate always enhances nutrition and taste value ;-). I was mentioning to Heather that my next bar (yes, there will be more bars! ;-) will be a baked variation.

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  18. Thank you Jen!!

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  19. The colours are vibrant aren't they? I admit I had fun with the balls ;-).

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  20. Heehee, thought the nut theme married well with my personality ;-).


    Oh, the fun has barely begun for us Sally... We are living in temporary accommodations and still have another move ahead of us - heehaw!

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  21. They are fun to experiment with and the possibilities are just endless... glad you like Angie.

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  22. Awesome! let me know how it goes... not sure if you've had a raw bar before; they do taste a little different texture wise but hopefully you and the boys will find them appealing -- I now prefer them to cooked bars (especially in the summer and it's still very much summer here :).

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  23. Thanks Jeanette - our boys like the one-bite balls too!

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  24. Sissi_Withaglass.comSeptember 12, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I always have problems believing at first your "....-free" titles because your food looks always so luscious, rich and beautiful, it has nothing to do with the sad, boring stuff labeled "gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, etc"I often see in organic shops. These bars look absolutely delicious! I am now very intrigued by the sunflower seed butter. I haven't even heard about it!

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  25. Thanks Sissi. It's funny because whenever I'm behind someone ordering their pretentious 7 label descriptives from Starbucks (fat free, dairy free, can you make me skinny please,....) I have to take a deep breath so I definitely have mixed feelings about the whole label thing -- but I work with so many folks with legitimate food allergies/intolerances that I try and accommodate as much as possible. And of course, it's super easy to sub in a glutenous grain or more sugar whenever people want (there is no shortage of those types of recipes on-line :) so the type of stuff I put together is maybe a bit more unique or harder to find and hopefully suiting a purpose.


    The sunflower butter I bought had a touch of sea salt added to it and honest to goodness, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!! It was all I could do not to drain the entire bottle -- thankfully my husband and sons helped me on that score (we all loved). A must try :)

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  26. These bars look absolutely mouth watering. Would you mind if I dipped mine in chocolate? The earthy flavours of the seeds and the sweetness of the fruit would go so well with the chocolate. And I could pretend I'm eating not so good for you truffles. I will have to add these to my Christmas baking for sure.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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  27. Eva, I eat dark chocolate virtually every day. You will not hear me object to dipping :)

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  28. Kelly, your bars look so yummy! I really love eating healthy snacks that taste good and are good for your body. Thanks for the lovely recipe!

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  29. Oh this is gorgeous Kelly. What a great idea, especially for those who can't take nuts ( I have more than a fair few friends who can't!) I can't believe that it's no-bake too- how simple yet yummy. Especially love the idea of rolling extra into balls; I may well just makes balls instead of bars ha!



    mummyicancook.com

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  30. I know, I know, who can resist the fun of making balls, right? ;O) Thanks for dropping by Shuhan.

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  31. Hi Shelley, how nice to fin you here this morning; lovely of you to stop by :).

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