No, this is not the beginning of a joke, it was the beginning of a family day of adventure, off to trek through the Florida swamps, wrangle alligators, and to top it all off with a refreshing dip in the Gulf of Mexico. A long day and if it was going to be a fun day, allergy friendly snacks were required.
Nothing can ruin a fun day like a carload of hungry, cranky kids! So along with fresh fruit, hummus and veggies, and an assortment of salty, gluten-free crackers and snacks, I made some allergy friendly granola bars.
The base of these super allergy friendly granola bars is gluten-free rolled oats, Sunbutter (a nut-free peanut butter substitute), a mashedbanana, some melted Earth Balance dairy free butter substitute and coconut sugar. The recipe is almost more like a suggestion because you can elaborate any way you like. I filled mine with pumpkin seeds, dried fruit (a combination of cranberries, blueberries and cherries) and a handful of dairy-free chocolate chunks – healthy with just a touch of naughty, but you can make yours as naughty or nice as you like. Since I was feeding younger kids I used semi-sweet chocolate chucks but rich, dark chocolate would be fabulous. If you like coconut, throw it in! Tree nuts not a problem? Add some slivered almonds. Peanuts ok? Just use peanut butter. You get the idea. You can add up to a cup of additional items with no problem and substitute whatever type of seeds you like, a combination is fine too. Mine were fairly simple (due to a four year old palate) and thus were really moist and chewy, if you add in more stuff such as coconut or nuts, it may be a bit drier. I personally like salt mixed with my sweet so I sprinkled on a little more coarse salt before popping in the oven.
I made these for the kids to keep them happy and well fed but to be perfectly honest, they were so delicious my sister and I almost hid them and kept them all for ourselves. (OK, I confess, we did hide a couple and had them for breakfast the next day. I know we are bad grown ups…)
Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, these granola bars are not only gluten, dairy and nut free, they are also egg free, vegan and if you use coconut sugar and the Organic Sunbutter, they are also refined-sugar free! Seems the only thing there are not free of is amazing flavor!
Gluten Free Granola Bars Recipe
¾ cup Sunbutter (I like Natural Crunch but Creamy is good too)
½ cup coconut sugar, Sucanat or brown sugar
1 medium banana, peeled and mashed
½ cup butter or dairy free butter substitute, melted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ – 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
2 ½ cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried fruit, raisins or a combination – if using larger pieces of dried fruit, chop roughly
½ cup chocolate chunks or chips
(optional – you can add up to a cup of additional ingredients such as coconut flakes, slivered or chopped nuts, flax, chia, sunflower or sesame seeds)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with gluten-free, non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Sunbutter, sugar, mashed banana, melted butter or butter substitute and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the remaining ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely and then cut into squares. Will keep wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This gluten-free recipe makes 8
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