Easy Nut and Fruit Bars

I wish that I’d read these words of wisdom before my first attempt at making these bars;

Before you start making plans to substitute your favorite brand of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for the specified syrups, hear me out: It will not work. Instead of a stack of bars, you will have a pile of crumbles.

True.

Copycat-Kind-Bars

The first time I made these, I tried to use honey and did end up a pile of crumbles, they were delicious mind you, but not very portable. 

So when you make these, use brown rice syrup or light corn syrup. If you just recoiled at the thought of ‘corn syrup’, note that light corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. Here’s a good explanation if you’re interested.

What I love about these bars is that they’re feather light but pack a punch in both flavor and satisfaction – the perfect thing to toss into your backpack on some spring hike or bike ride or into your purse to oust an afternoon craving.

Kind-Bar-Ingredients

To make these, I started with the recipe in this post and adapted it to the flavors I wanted. That’s what so great about the recipe, it’s really just a ratio of ingredients, ala Michael Ruhlman. Stick with the ratio of nuts, dried fruit, and seeds or cereal, to the amount of binder, aka syrup.

For the seeds and cereal portion, I added black sesame seeds and popped amaranth. I’ve been intrigued for a while about popped amaranth. Have you heard about it? You add the tiny grains to a very hot pan and they pop, like teeny-tiny popcorn. After burning the first few batches I tried, I finally got the hang of it. The fix was counterintuitive as the pan was not hot enough the first couple of times, causing the grains to burn. You want the grains to pop within about 5 seconds of hitting the pan – while you constantly stir. Here’s a video if you want to see the popping in action.

Popped-Amaranth

I made these bars for this month’s Leftovers Club exchange. My partner is Lisa of Healthy Nibbles & Bits. Her site is full of delicious looking recipes: Plantain Pizza Crust, Curry Basil Falafel, and recently a recipe for Baked Vegetable Coconut Tempura that looks too good not to try!

Easy Nut and Fruit Bars
 
As long as you stick to the recipe ratio of dry ingredients to syrup, you can use any combination of nut, seed, cereal, and dried fruit that you can imagine.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups assorted raw or toasted nuts (I used a mix of sprouted almonds, sprouted pepitas, toasted walnuts, and raw pecans)
  • ⅓ cup popped amaranth
  • ⅓ cup black sesame seeds
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup brown rice syrup (or light corn syrup)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Cut a second piece of parchment paper the same size (you'll use this to press the bars into shape).
  3. Stir together all ingredients except for brown rice syrup until combined. Pour syrup over and stir until mixture is evenly coated.
  4. Add to prepared baking dish and lay second piece of parchment paper over the top. Using your hands or an 8-inch square baking dish, firmly press the mixture into an even layer in the pan - put some muscle into this, you want your bars to stay together. Recycle extra parchment sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown at the edges and slightly soft at the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.
  6. Using the liner, lift mixture from the dish and transfer to cutting board. Cut into desired shape / number of bars. (I ended up with 16 bars)
  7. Wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for 1 month.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    These look fantastic! I was wondering if the size of the variables makes a difference, do you think? I don’t care for the flavor of sesame seeds, but if I substituted poppy seeds vs something large, like pine nuts, do you think it would matter? I will have to give it a try. Like you said, still yummy – just not portable. :)

    • says

      It’s funny that you’d mention poppy seeds, I almost used them instead of sesame seeds – they’re similar in size though, so I’m not sure about the pine nuts. Honestly, I wouldn’t use pine nuts in this recipe – they’re pretty fragile (though delicious!); I’m afraid they would burn.

  2. Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living says

    These look really good! I could see these making the perfect on-the-go morning snack. Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    I have a promise to make granola bars to my work colleagues, and this one is calling my name Marissa! Love the amaranth part. I even found it, already popped and packed, at the store. Quinoa too. I’m loving these bars!

  4. Kirsten says

    I made these the other day using egg whites to hold them together. I used 3 egg whites and a squirt of agave with the recipe. I didn’t have any amaranth so I popped some millet…delicious!

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