Soft and Chewy Baked Nut-Free Granola Bars Recipe
When you have a nut allergy, it isn't easy to find a recipe for nut free granola bars! Most people would assume it's my daughter that's allergic to nuts, but it's actually me that is severely allergic! And, As I've gotten older, my allergy has gotten even more severe - In my late twenties I had three emergency room visits in one year due to cross-contamination foods. After that, I strictly avoided any packaged foods that were made in a facility that processes nuts to avoid any more scares. Well, the more I pursue my own journey to eat healthier, the harder it is to find recipes without nuts! It's crazy actually! From almond flour, to desserts using cashews instead of dairy, it drives me bonkers. So for people like me, I have a really hard time finding inspiration unless I create the recipe myself.
Well, these nut free granola bars are wonderfully chewy and packed with fiber and protein (even without the nuts!).
I've left out the majority of common seeds (like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds) you would find in other granola bars because it can be hard to find them without fear of cross-contamination.
Instead, I added hemp seeds and chia seeds. Hemp seeds are packed with protein and omega fatty acids. Chia seeds are also a good source of omega fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. Why are these things important? Protein will help keep your energized longer throughout the day so you don't have those "mid afternoon crashes".
For anyone with a nut allergy, we tend to avoid the bulk section - especially for purchasing seeds and dried fruits! And after tons of research, I found these hemp seeds and chia seeds for my family (they are both made in a nut-free facility).
Dried fruit is another common concern due to cross contamination. Although it doesn't say it on the package, it's the law in Canada to state whether or not a product could potentially contain nuts and these ones from Earthbound Farm Organic don't state anything. So I felt comfortable using them.
Enjoy Life chocolate chips are my go-to for any baking using chocolate! I'm a big fan! They are free from all common allergens including milk, peanuts, tree nuts and soy. It makes me so happy that there are companies dedicated to making products like these!
These nut free granola bars could easily be called "energy" bars because they're packed with so many nutritious ingredients! I've been enjoying them after my workouts. And Luella likes them as an afternoon snack.
Healthy Nut Free Granola Bar Recipe
Makes: 16 bars
Nut-free, naturally sweetened, soft and chewy, protein and fiber packed granola bars. Makes a great snack for kids lunches or for you too!
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
3/4 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 Tbsp ground flax
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 ripe banana
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine oats, dates, raisins, chia seeds, shredded coconut, hemp seeds, ground flax, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor; pulse until the dates and raisins are finely chopped, but not pureed.
Add banana, vanilla extract, eggs, and maple syrup; pulse until combined.
Lastly, add the chocolate chips; pulsing very lightly until they're just combined.
Transfer mixture to the lined baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread mixture out to form an even thin layer.
Bake bars for 20-23 mins, or until they're firm to the touch. Let cool for 2 mins, then transfer bars to a wire rack by lifting underneath parchment paper. Let cool completely, then cut into 16 bars (or whatever amount you like).
Store in an airtight container or keep in the freezer to preserve freshness.
Granola bars are such a great thing to prepare at home because you can add way more nutritious ingredients that aren't included in the store-bought versions. You can also ax the refined sugar that is so common and use a natural sweetener instead, like maple syrup.
Homemade bars are also easily customizable - you can add your favorite nuts or seeds (if you're not allergic), or different dried fruits like apricots. Don't like coconut? Leave it out! The possibilities are endless - and all of them will taste delicious.
I love being able to pop a couple of these bars in my bag for a quick snack when I'm out and need an energy boost!