Every time I have tried to make homemade granola bars--which has been quite a few times, actually--they crumble. I just cannot get them out of the pan without the bars disintegrating into plain old granola cereal. I had pretty much given up, but then I got the idea from my cookie dough bliss balls that maybe beans and dates would make better binders then the oil and maple or brown rice syrup that are often used in vegan granola bars. Success! These came out of the pan easily in bar form and are portable if tightly wrapped and not placed where they will be smooshed. They have a crunch and toothsome texture from the steel cut oats and seeds, but they are chewy, not crispy. Perhaps, if you subbed in some brown rice cereal, you would get more of that light-airy Quaker crispiness, if that is what you want. I prefer the denser texture, though. My son ate these happily in his snack at school, and I even made some into a granola pie crust for my dairy and soy-free cheesecake by processing about half a pan with a bit of rice milk and then pressing the mixture into the pie pan.
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sesame, hemp, or sunflower seeds, or a combination thereof
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 scoops stevia powder (I use Trader Joe's organic)
2 Tbsp. chia seed meal, coconut flour, or vegan protein powder
3/4 cup prunes, dates, or raisins, or a combination thereof
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened rice milk
1 Tbsp. molasses
1. Preheat your oven to 350 and toast the oats and seeds for 5 minutes. Add the coconut and toast for 5 mins more. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the salt, cinnamon, stevia, and chia seed meal or alternative.
2. Place the dried fruit, chickpeas, vanilla, molasses, and 1/4 cup rice milk in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If necessary, add more rice milk a Tbsp. at a time to get a smooth consistency.
3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until uniformly moistened. Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the granola bar mixture into the pan, and then lay another piece of parchment paper on top and press the mixture down as firmly as you can. Refrigerate for about an hour before cutting. I store mine in the fridge until I am ready to pack or eat them.
This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday Wellness Weekend Healthy Vegan Fridays.