[Post #81 for 100 days of Vegan, Gluten-Free, Portable Power Pucks]
I am ambivalent about sharing this recipe.
Why? Because, based on my own experience, making and eating the results can (swiftly) develop into an obsession.
Then again, it’s an obsession based on deliciousness and great nutrition, coupled with ease and convenience, so I might as well divulge all. So, without further reservation, allow me to introduce you to my Grain-Free Granola Bar Bites!
What immediately sets these apart from other granola bars is, of course, that they are grain-free. No oats, no flakes, no puffs, and no cereals of any kind. Instead, the “granola” mixture is nuts, seeds and coconut. If you like, go 100% nuts (I find that easy to do on any given day :)) or 100% seeds (less expensive and allergy-friendly).
Transforming the nuts, seeds and coconut into granola is as simple as grinding all to the consistently of flakes and grains. Using an assortment render an unevenly mix of bits and pieces, which is exactly what you want.
Now, the tricky part: binding the granola into a portable snack. My cursory search for other grain-free granola bars delivered two options: (1) bind and bake with eggs; or (2) take the no-bake route and solidify the bars with chilled coconut oil and nut butter. Both were out. The first is obvious (no eggs for vegan pucks), but the second option was equally problematic: the bars would be an oily, crumbly mess unless eaten immediately from the refrigerator (or in the middle of a snowstorm). So I opted for baking and binding with a flax “egg.”
The results? Heavenly. Crispy and crunchy, but somewhat tender towards the middle, delicately sweet and toasty in flavor, decidedly portable (no special handling required), and hands down delectable.
I am calling these “bites,” but only because they they are made in the round (muffin tin!); they are a substantial size, equivalent to a medium-size granola bar. Making them in the muffin tin is so much easier than a square tin: more even baking, instant portion control, and best of all, no cutting involved post-bake. If you have ever cut into a pan of granola bars and watched them collapse into crumbles, you know exactly what I mean regarding the last point. Plus, individial bar bites mean more crispy, toasty-nut edges–a very good thing!
I went with minimalist flavorings here: maple syrup for sweetness, a splash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of sea salt. But feel free to alter these to your heart’s desire: spices, chopped dried fruit, other extracts, chocolate chips, you name it. Happy devouring.
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup assorted nuts and/or seeds (see note about measuring large nut pieces)
- ½ cup unsweetened flake coconut
- 2 tablespoons creamy nut or seed butter (e.g., almond, sunflower, peanut)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease, spray or line 8 cups of a standard size muffin tin.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flax meal and water. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Grind the nuts/seeds and coconut in a food processor until finely chopped (not too fine or powdery; you want an uneven chop similar to oats and cereal). Place in bowl with flax mixture, stirring to combine.
- In a small saucepan, melt the nut/seed butter and syrup over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt, then pour over nut mixture, stirring to coat.
- Divide mixture evenly between prepare cups, tamping down into cups.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12-16 minutes until browned at edges and centers feel dry to the touch. Transfer tin to a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Cool completely.
Sweetener Option: If not vegan, an equal amount of honey can be used in place of the maple syrup. Agave nectar is fine, too.