The Ultimate Granola Bar

Recently, M and I went on the ultimate sister trip and ventured to Chilean Patagonia. It's always been a dream of ours, and the experience was nothing short of surreal. I remember the day we arrived, M took out and laughed at a perhaps grossly large bag of protein bars I had brought in my backpack. I thought it was a good way to prepare for the possible hangry hiking episodes that might occur.

And as we read the ingredients, we realized how many ingredients were in each and exactly how much sugar was in each as well. M had said she and her fiancé had made their own healthy bars in the past, and not wanting to miss out on the fun, I was determined to make my own bars once we came back home!

Enter the ultimate raw bar! I say ultimate, because its so surprisingly flavor-packed, packed with healthy fats, and easy to make with the few ingredients it calls for. Plus, no added sugars besides the natural sweetness from the dates. But fair warning-- a lot of the ingredients' amounts have leeway and I estimated for the majority. 

Rolled oats
Chia seeds
Walnuts (optional)
Pumpkin pepitas (or sunflower seeds, whatever you prefer)
Medjool dates (pitted)
Coconut oil
Shredded unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350. (you only use the oven to toast your oats)

Pour roughly 3-4 cups of rolled oats in a mixing bowl. Add a small handful (or more) of chia seeds, chopped walnuts (handful), and pepitas (handful), and a pinch salt/pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add about 4 table spoons of liquefied coconut oil, enough to coat all the oats evenly. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 13-15 min, until oats are golden brown. Mix halfway through.

Cool the granola mixture. 

While it’s cooling, unpit 10-12 dates (as sweet or unsweet as you like, add/subtract as needed). Chop dates in small pieces, then add to cooled granola mixture. This is where you may need to use your hands or a larger spoon. Using your hands, squish dates and oats together so dates are no longer in piece-form, but completely flattened until all dates and granola are mixed together homogeneously. Mixture should be cohesive with not much in the way of free floating oats. In a pan (I used 9x9) with parchment paper, pour mixture into pan and flatten until evenly pressed and compact into the pan. Sprinkle generously with coconut flakes on top, and gently press into granola mixture so it sticks.

Cover the pan with foil, and place into freezer for 2-3 hours at least. 

Remove, and cut into bars. Wrap with paper and tie with string, and place your bars in a Tupperware or plastic bag in the fridge for storing (the cold helps the bar stick together). And that's it! Perfect snack for breakfast, post-workout, or dessert.

A shot of Lago Sofía in Patagonia.


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