Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vegan Cashew Cranberry Granola Bars

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside:

3 cups old fashion rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/4 - 1 cup dried cranberries, depending on desired sweetness (or any dried fruit)
1 cup finely chopped cashews (or any choice nut)
1/4 cup finely chopped sunflower seeds
1 T flax meal
1 T chia seed, ground
1 T sesame seed
2 T shredded coconut

Bring to a smooth consistency in saucepan over low heat:

1 cup milk of choice (try coconut, almond, or hemp)
1 T olive, coconut or grape seed oil
1/2 cup cashew butter (or corresponding nut butter for choice nut)
2 T  to 1/2 c maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness
Add warm liquids to dry ingredients and mix well. Press firmly (prevents crumbling) into a well-oiled 9x9 pan.

Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes if in a metal pan, or 25 minutes if using a glass pan. Bars should be turning a light golden brown around the edges.

Here is the key to bars that won't crumble...YOU MUST LET THEM COOL COMPLETELY before cutting and storing. These freeze very well, I usually make up 2-3 batches with different nut/fruit combinations and store them in the freezer and make a wonderful on the go snack. They are good thawed or try them frozen with a smear of fresh peanut butter for a dessert-like treat. Some of the combinations I like are cashew-mango, almond-ginger (I use crystalized ginger), almond-vanilla-cherry (add 1 t vanilla to wet mixture), and peanut butter and jelly (I add 1/4 c. finely chopped pumpkin seeds and leave out the maple syrup and when you are ready to put them in the pan, press 1/2 the mixture into the bottom of the pan, add a layer of jelly/jam and then top with the remaining mixture and bake).

Storage Note: Best to store these in the freezer if planning to keep them more than a few days. They will stay fresh at room temperature for about 3 days, but are best eaten right away or frozen. Adding Vit E as a preservative may prolong freshness.

Remember, use local and organic foods as much as possible. This is just as important as our choice to remove/reduce animal products from our diet!

*gluten-free and soy-free

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