Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pecan Cranberry Granola Bars (Vegan, Gluten Free & Refined Sugar Free)

These granola bars have become a staple in our house. They're super straightforward to make and they make the most perfect snack! I made some last week thinking we'll eat some throughout the week and have a few leftover to bring on vacation. But, no they're completely gone! Sometimes, I grab one with a smoothie for breakfast and by lunch I'm ready for another one. They're that good!

These granola bars make such a great gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free option to regular granola bars. I used to have a Nature Valley granola bar almost every day in my lunch, but in trying to cut back sugar those granola bars just don't make the cut! If I'm going to eat a treat, I sure don't it to be a granola bar at snack time! These granola bars are naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and honey and they are so easily made gluten free! Not to mention, they use coconut oil and a binder instead of butter, so they're vegan!

In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of quick oats (use gluten free oats if you need), 1/4 cup of coconut sugar, 1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans, 1 cup of dried cranberries and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I opted to chop up the dried cranberries a little, just so that their size was a little more uniform with the oats and the pecans.
Add 1 cup of honey and 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil to a glass measuring dish. Microwave the contents of the measuring dish just until the coconut oil is melted. Next, mix in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Pour the honey, coconut oil and vanilla into the dry ingredients and until well combined. The dry ingredients should begin to hold together, but they won't be too sticky.
Line a 9x13'' glass baking dish with parchment paper. You'll want to leave enough paper hanging over the edge so that you can remove the granola bars later by pulling out the parchment. Press the granola bars into the bottom of the baking dish. I like to use a piece of waxed paper to press the bars down, just so the bars stick to themselves more than me. Pack the bars down well so they are evenly flattened in the baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the bars for 25 minutes - they should be golden and fragrant when you remove them from the oven. Let the bars cool completely before cutting them. I typically cut these bars into 24-30, but you could adjust the size of your bars to end up with fewer.
To cut the bars, use the excess parchment paper to pull the granola bars out of the baking dish. I typically put the bars down on a cutting board to cut, but I leave the parchment down, just to reduce mess. 

Once cut, I wrap each bar up with plastic wrap and I store them in the fridge. I don't love the waste of using plastic wrap, but I've found that it works best.

Vegan, Gluten Free & Refined Sugar Free
yield 24-30 granola bars

4 cups quick oats (use GF if necessary)
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup honey, heated
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, the coconut sugar, the chopped pecans, the dried cranberries and the cinnamon.
2. Combine the heated honey, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract.
3. Pour the honey, vanilla and vanilla extract into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. The granola bars should begin to hold together, but they won't be too sticky.
4. Line a 9x13'' baking dish with parchment paper and press the granola bars into the bottom of the baking dish.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the bars for 25 minutes. They should come out of the oven slightly golden and fragrant.
6. Wait for the bars to cool completely before cutting them into 24-30 granola bars.
7. Once cut, wrap the individual granola bars in saran wrap and store in the fridge.

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