Growing up, I LOVED Quaker granola bars.
You know, the chewy ones with the mini chocolate chips. They kind of felt like a sweet treat, but they were a marketed as a healthy granola bar. So mom packed them in lunches and yummm, I always loved them! She also packed things like fruit snacks, baby carrots, cream cheese bagels, turkey sandwiches, occasionally a KUDOS bars (do any of you remember them, I guess they are actually still around), plus the other usual lunch items, like water and fruit.
Honestly, I never ate a big lunch at school, it was always just uncomfortable for me. I’d pretty much only eat half of my turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and call it a day. I was a really odd kid, and school was always something I struggled greatly with. It’s funny though, looking back, I really don’t understand why I hated school so much. I had friends, I got decent grades (although I REALLY had to work hard for them) and compared to some of the real life issues I am dealing with now (yeah, I am talking about you taxes, bills, health insurance, really all things pertaining to money), school doesn’t seem so bad. But for whatever reason I totally struggled with school.
I would like to say that those Quaker chewy chocolate chip granola bars saved me back then, but really, I just liked eating them once I got home and could relax. Those and bags of baby carrots, but again, I was SO weird.
Ahh, wait, I still am totally weird.
Anyway, the idea behind these bars, came from those chewy Quaker granola bars. Only I really wanted to incorporate some summer cherries. I also wanted to make them a bit healthier. Soo, I added dried cherries (that I made myself, but more on that later!) and instead of chocolate chips I used cacao nibs, which clearly I am just a little bit into right now. Plus, I really do not like the combo of cherries and chocolate (like I really don’t), so cherries and cacao nibs seemed like the right thing to do for my taste buds.
Cacao nibs are chocolate in their purest form, but it’s weird because to me, they really don’t taste like chocolate, chocolate. Does that make sense? They are not sweet in the least and really, I really just like the crunch they give. My favorite way to eat them is in granola with yogurt, I pretty much eat this combo daily. They have so many health benefits, they are one of the highest sources of antioxidants you can find and they are also great sources of flavonoids, fiber, magnesium and potassium.
BUT, if you’re not into the cacao nibs and you like cherries and chocolate, you can just sub mini chocolate chips for the cacao nibs.
Oh, and about those cherries. I dried them myself?!? Isn’t that cool??
Ok, maybe not, but my grocery store does not carry dried cherries and I knew added fresh cherries would not work for these no bake bars. SO I thought I would just dry them out in the oven myself. You guys, it worked so perfectly, and you know, they are addicting! Sweet, chewy and the perfect way to make those summer cherries last through the fall and winter months…
Meaning you should probably go buy all the cherries you possibly can now, dry them out, and store them. Then you’ll have cherries for snacking at all times. Yes!
I really wanted to use puffed brown rice cereal, but unfortunately, I cannot find it anywhere up here. I used to be able to buy it at Target, but sadly they seem to no longer to carry it. Therefore, I ended up using toasted buckwheat and it worked out great! The bars turned out a little crunchier than what I was going for, but I still liked the texture a lot. You can use whichever you prefer though.
And yeah, that’s kind of it. Simple, healthy and delicious!!
Thinking it’s snack time?!
Chewy Cherry, Almond and Cacao Nib Granola Bars.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 2/3 cups toasted buckwheat* OR brown rice krispies
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup ground flax meal optional
- 1/2 cup cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips
- 1/2-1 cup dried cherries my recipe for homemade dried cherries is below
- 3/4 cup honey may use brown rice syrup if vegan
- 1 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups fresh cherries pitted
Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the oatmeal, buckwheat OR puffed brown rice cereal, sliced almonds, flax meal, cocoa nibs (or mini chocolate chips) and dried cherries.
In a small sauce pan, add the almond butter, coconut oil and honey. Set the pot over medium heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla + salt. Pour the almond butter mixture over the oats and stir until combined. Press into the prepared the pan. I like to use the back of a 1/2 cup measuring cup, spray the flat bottom with a little cooking spray and then really press the mixture into the bottom of the pan using the bottom of the measuring cup. Cover the bars and place in the fridge for at least one hour or until set.
Cut into the bars and store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge. The bars will last at least 2 weeks.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the cherries in an even layer over the parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook for 4-6 hours or until the cherries are dried. This may take more or less time depending on where you live. Start checking on them around 3-4 hours. Store in a sealed container.
Yes. Totally snack time.