cherry coconut cashew energy bars with dark chocolate
Granola bars and/or energy bars I have bought in the past have always been loaded with additives and other things I don’t want. They’re also either too dry, too crunchy, too sweet or have too much fat and calories. The few that I do like are REALLY expensive. So a while back I decided to try my hand at making my own. I figured it would be really easy. It wasn’t. I tried a LOT of different recipes and although some of them were good, I didn’t find anything that was great. Some of them were too dry and fell apart. Others were too chewy and dense. The list goes on and on. I decided to use a few different recipes as a guideline to get the ratio of ingredients right so that my bars would be the consistency I wanted, but I made up my own recipe based on my favourite things (I’ll eat ANYTHING with cherries and dark chocolate!!).
After making this recipe FIVE times, I have finally come up with what I feel is the perfect amount of each ingredient. The wonderful thing about this recipe is how you can simply substitute one thing for an equal amount of another to customize it. For instance, you could use almonds or peanuts instead of cashews. You could use almond or cashew butter in place of peanut butter. You could use sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds instead of coconut. You could use milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. You could even use cranberries instead of cherries… You get the idea.
Now that I have the ratios down, I will be experimenting with all kinds of amazing flavour combinations! (I already tried the recipe with dried blueberries and almonds instead of cashews and cherries and it was amazing).
MONEY SAVING TIP: Some of the ingredients can be quite expensive (nuts, dried cherries, coconut, etc). I always recommend buying any ingredients possible from the bulk bins to save LOTS of money. My dry storage is now filled with jars of assorted nuts, dried fruit, seeds, chocolate chips and other ingredients I can ‘play with’!
I have been eating a LOT more nuts, seeds and oats lately and it’s been amazing. I find that I’m snacking much less on sugary or carb heavy foods and the protein and fibre from the nuts and seeds keeps me full for hours. I always grab a small energy bar or just a handful of nuts before a workout and I’ve been performing better than ever.
I’m not going to be turning into a gluten-free vegan any time soon but incorporating all these natural, super healthy ingredients into my diet is definitely becoming part of my lifestyle as opposed to a fad.
The below bars are my favourite flavour combination yet. I’m obsessed with the mix of cashews, coconut, cherry and dark chocolate!! SO GOOD. I hope you, and your family, enjoy these as much as mine does!
*Anywhere you can afford to use natural, organic ingredients, I always recommend it. However, it can increase the cost significantly so it’s completely up to you. One of the main reasons to make your own bars, after all, is to save money.
INGREDIENTS (makes 16 square bars)
- 1 Tbsp flaxseed
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup puffed rice (you could use brown puffed rice. I used Rice Krispies)
- 3/4 cup unsalted cashews – rough chop
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (use less if you want to make them even healthier)
- 3/4 cup tart dried cherries
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (natural peanut butter is recommended)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- Heat ‘wet’ ingredients and the salt over low heat in a pot until smooth and combined. Around 2 minutes.
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl (except chocolate chips unless you want the chocolate to melt). It’s great both ways.
- NOTE: If you want the chocolate to melt all the way through, add the chocolate into the mix before you add the wet ingredients. If you want to have chocolate chips throughout, LEAVE THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS OUT OF THE MIX UNTIL AFTER YOU ADD THE WET INGREDIENTS TO THE DRY INGREDIENTS. (Otherwise the warm peanut butter mixture will melt the chocolate. I learned this the hard way).
pouring wet ingredients into dry ingredients
- Pour wet ingredients from the pot into the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix to combine (I use my hands to do this). Once it’s cooled down a bit you can add the chocolate chips.
- Line a baking pan/dish with parchment or wax paper and spray with Pam cooking spray (or use a little canola oil).
- Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan.
energy bars pressed into pan
- Refrigerate for at least ONE HOUR.
- Carefully lift parchment/wax paper out of pan and onto cutting board.
- Cut into bars in whatever size or shape you wish.
energy bars cut into squares
- Store in an air-tight container at room temperature with parchment paper separating pieces so they don’t stick together.