Cherry Cashew Granola Bars are simple, vegan, gluten free, and loaded with cashews, almonds, healthy seeds and dried cherries.
This recipe was originally posted on May 19th 2015 and was the first recipe ever published on Simply Sissom. Photos and text have been updated:)
I’m going to level with you, because that’s just the type of friends that we are. Making the switch to a whole food lifestyle isn’t effortless. It takes planning, preparation and TIME. No matter how many kitchen hacks, crockpot meals or doubled recipes you use… driving through or popping a frozen meal into the microwave is ALWAYS going to be the simpler choice.
Taking the time to read labels, make food from scratch and eliminate processed ingredients has to be something that you value or it just isn’t going to work. Convenience food is just too, well, convenient.
Strange words from a whole foods food blogger… I know. But, I’m just trying to keep it real.
If you are just getting started with a whole food lifestyle the best advice that I can give you is to take it slow. DON”T THROW AWAY ALL YOUR FOOD. As you use something, replace it with a healthier option.
For my family, granola bars (aka breakfast) was the first change that we made. Until Cooper was 3, Z Bars were a breakfast staple in our home. Cooper loved them. They were convenient. Whole Foods sold them. The Label Said Organic. Breakfast perfection. Annd then.. I ran across an article on FB… you guys, they are terrible for you ?.
Z Bar Ingredients:
Organic Oat Blend (Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Oat Fiber), Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Chocolate Chips (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Fig Paste, Organic Cocoa, Organic Soy Butter (Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soybean Oil, Salt), Natural Flavors, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Baking Soda. VITAMINS & MINERALS: Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Zinc Oxide, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Folic Acid (Vit. B9), Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12). ALLERGEN STATEMENT: Contains soy. May contain traces of milk, peanuts, wheat, and tree nuts.
There are a ridiculous amount of ingredients, and what the heck is Niacinamide? Not to mention that “natural flavors,” aka chemicals, is a listed ingredient. (Check out this article from Food Babe for more info about natural flavors.)
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I found the news to be completely shocking. In fact, I’m going to be completely honest, I purposely hadn’t researched too far into the nutrition info of these bars. I had a 2 year old that I had to get to the babysitter by 7:15 AM. If there was something that I could feed him on the way to the sitter that he liked and I didn’t have to cook… I was in. Buuutttt.. once you read an article like that, you have to make a change.
You guys, I had NEVER made granola bars in my entire life. But let me tell you, if you want to feel fabulously domestic… this is the recipe for you. In my mind the type of people who made homemade granola bars made their own wrapping paper out of parchment paper and rubber stamps, created vases that looked like a million bucks out of toothpicks and yarn and prepared homemade coq au vin for dinner on a regular basis. You know “Pinteresty” people. Not so… granola bars are the best kind of recipes. They give the illusion that you spent hours slaving away in the kitchen, but in reality they come together in 1 bowl and about 30 minutes. My kind of recipe!
I’m going to skip the middle part of the story where I made 123,876 trips to whole foods (I had the bulk bin codes memorized) and tested 234,876 different bar recipes (you don’t have to worry about that part). I present to you….. Cherry Cashew Granola Bars!
The bars get their sweetness from dried cherries and bananas. No refined sugar! They also are oil free, vegan (just omit or use a vegan chocolate substitution) and can be made gluten free depending on the oats you use. Most amazingly…. they taste great!
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
Prep: Making homemade granola bars is definitely not as convenient as store bought, and my family goes through bars! To save time I always double the recipe. I use half of the dry ingredients to make the bars and save the other half in a storage container that I keep in my pantry. When I am ready to make bars again I just smash and add 3 bananas to the pre-mixed ingredients and I’m good to go! It takes 5 minutes. If you are feeling really ambitious make more than 1 backup!
Make Ahead: These bars are perfect for a make ahead situation. Bake according to directions and wrap each individual bar in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.. but I bet they won’t last that long!
Freezer: Cherry Cashew Granola Bars will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze, cook according to directions and allow the bars to cool. Arrange them into a single layer on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until they are frozen through. Remove bars from freezer and wrap each individual bar in plastic wrap. That’s it! Just allow the bars a few minutes to come to room temperature before eating.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
- ½ cup cashews, chopped
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup pepita seeds
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ¼ dark chocolate chunks (optional)
- 3 medium bananas mashed (no lumps)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly oil a 9x13 pan and line with parchment paper (to avoid bars sticking to pan).
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
- Add mashed bananas to the bowl and mix well.
- Dump mixture into the prepared pan. Use a rubber spatula to spread evenly. Press firmly to ensure that the bars don't crumble.
- Bake at 350 for 22 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
- If you are including chocolate in your bars watch out for additives such as oils and preservatives. The fewer ingredients the better. The percentage of cocoa used should be 60% or higher. I have found that it is easier to find healthy dark chocolate if you buy a bar instead of chocolate chunks. Second confession.. I buy the chunks. Convenient. Choose your battles right? (If you prefer to use a bar the you should check out Dagoba chocolate).
- If you find that your bars are not sticking together after being baked… add more banana the next time!
- In order to make sure that your bars don’t get stuck to the pan it is really important to spray and line it with parchment paper. I make granola bars at least 2x per week. For this reason, I keep a stash of pre-cut parchment paper. Just use a washable marker and trace around the base of your pan. Cut it out. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Looking for more healthy whole-food recipes? Check out Simply Sissom on Pinterest. If you like it, follow! New pins are added daily from my favorite bloggers from around the web!
Other “Bar Recipes” You Might Like:
FREE: GRAB N" GO BREAKFAST EBOOK
10 Make-Ahead,Whole Food Breakfast Recipes to help mornings go a little smoother and maybe even get you a little bit of extra sleep!