Snack bars are a variation on a cookie, but with healthier ingredients. Usually. Dried fruit, cereal and nuts are typical snack bar ingredients. When you bake your own, you are in control of the ingredients. That’s why I created this snack bar based on dried fruit for most of the sweetness. There is no added fat in the recipe (except the optional frosting), and a bonus: they are gluten free.
I like a snack bar with texture and crunch, so I included plenty of almonds and cacao nibs for crunch and a hint of chocolate.
The recipe is very flexible to your choice of dried fruits—Black Mission or Calimyrna figs, Deglet Noor or Medjool dates, Californian or Mediterranean apricots, Natural or Golden raisins—just be sure to chop the dried fruit finely so the fruit moisture and natural sugars help hold the bars together.
You can choose a variety of cereals too. I found that quinoa flakes, which are typically served as a hot cereal, make the bars a little crispier than the oats. However, oats have twice the protein and also work fine in this recipe.
Immediately after baking, press hot bars firmly again, then cool completely before lifting from the pan by the foil. Cut into 8 or 12 bars. Wrap in plastic or wax paper and your custom-made snack bars are ready to go!
For fancier bars, spread with ‘frosting’ of almond butter and a little coconut oil which firms the frosting when chilled. Bring a napkin for on-the-go because the frosting softens at room temperature.
Make-Your-Own Snack Bars
These crispy cereal bars packed with almonds, dried apricots and figs or dates fit the bill for an on-the-run morning or afternoon energy snack. They are gluten free too!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour cooling time
Makes: 8-12 bars
3/4 cup raw whole almonds
3/4 cup puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup quinoa flakes or quick oats
1/2 cup chopped Sun-Maid Figs or Dates
1/2 cup chopped Sun-Maid Apricots
1/4 cup cacao nibs (optional)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
Almond Butter ‘Frosting’ (optional)
1/4 cup salted or unsalted almond butter
2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
Mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325F°. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil leaving an overhang on two ends; coat generously with cooking spray.
- Spread almonds and cereals on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant.
- Mix choice of dried fruit and cacao nibs in a large bowl. Put honey and sugar in a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. About a minute before the cereal is done toasting, heat in microwave about 30 seconds or until bubbly, stirring once to dissolve sugar. Watch carefully that it doesn’t boil over.
- Stir hot toasted almonds and cereal with the dried fruit. Immediately drizzle with the hot honey and mix quickly with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until ingredients are evenly coated. Turn into prepared pan and press very firmly with a piece of wax paper or lightly oiled foil
- Bake 20 minutes or until top is light golden brown. Remove from oven and press very firmly with the back of a spatula. Cool completely in pan. Lift out of pan holding edge of foil. Cut into bars.
For frosted bars, stir together coconut oil and almond butter. Spread over uncut bars. Top with sliced almonds or mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, 1-2 hours. Cut into bars.
Note: Frosted bars must be stored in the refrigerator for frosting to stay firm. Unfrosted bars can be stored airtight at room temperature. Bars keep well for 1-2 weeks.
- To chop dried fruit: Use a slightly moistened sharp knife to prevent sticking to the knife.
- To foil line baking pan: Invert pan and wrap outside of pan with foil, then flip pan over and insert foil.
- Top frosted bars with extra toppings for cleaner packaging.
Per 1/8 Serving (unfrosted):
220 calories, 7g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 0mg cholesterol, 5g protein, 37g carbohydrate, 10mg sodium, 4g fiber
Per 1/8 Serving (frosted):
320 calories, 17g fat, 4g sat fat, 0mg cholesterol, 7g protein, 41g carbohydrate, 25mg sodium, 6g fiber
Rosemary Mark remembers the day her kindergarten teacher said, “Rosemary, you need to play somewhere other than the kitchen or the grocery store, how about the playground.” Five year-old Rosemary was devastated, but only for the day. After studying foods and nutrition in college, she made the kitchen her playground for recipe development and new product innovation. She blogs at www.getcookingsimply.com.