I’m sorry if calling these Berry Almond Butter Superfood Bars is cheesy. I struggled to find a name that was both descriptive and conveys just how perfectly they strike a balance between deliciousness and health. I promise they’re not one of those snacks that you choke down because they’re good for you, you know they’ll keep you moderately full until your next meal, and they taste okay enough. These will meet those first two goals, and as for taste – well, all I can tell you is that these are the ones I find myself craving at that 3pm blood sugar dip time. And after dinner. And first thing in the morning.
“Superfood” is one of those marketing words that doesn’t always mean what you think it means (like “all natural” or “free!”). Or at least, it doesn’t always translate to something desirable, because sometimes one person’s “super” is another’s person’s “gross.” But I promise this recipe earns the title. It’s got ingredients that are both really healthy and incredibly tasty. There’s no kale in these bars, no surreptitious zucchini, no vaguely dirt-flavored food that’s supposed to be good for you. These taste like a cookie, but they are chock full of little miracles that do good things for your body.
No refined sugar, no wheat , nothing processed. Just a sweet little mix of nuts, seeds, grains, and dried fruit, bound together with rich almond butter, golden honey, and a little brown rice syrup for the perfect chewy consistency. You can’ grab ’em for breakfast, pop a couple in your kids’ lunches, or savor one as a mid-afternoon snack with a cup of tea. Maybe even sneak one in the middle of the night when you wake up craving a snack (ask my fiance about that).
So what is so super about these foods? Flax and chia seeds will give you a nice boost of inflammation-reducing omega-3s, and as an aside, this is probably just me, but I have grown to weirdly enjoy getting chia seeds stuck in my teeth (love that delightfully smooshy texture). Dried blueberries are like nature’s candy. Did your mom ever say that about raisins? Mine did, but blueberries are so much more flavorful that I could actually fall for it. Plus, they’re packed with vitamins C and K and antioxidants. Millet is high in B vitamins and, along with the oats and dried berries, will do a stellar job of keeping you, shall we say, regulah. Yay, fiber. Almonds and cashews are little nutritional powerhouses, and here they serve double duty in the form of crunchy texture and creamy butter. Make that triple duty, because they have protein as well. MAGIC. If you use gluten-free oats, this recipe is safe for those with gluten allergies or sensitivities.
These also stick with you. Do you ever have a nice fruit and protein-packed smoothie for breakfast only to have your stomach growling an hour later? I do. I hate that. Doesn’t happen with these bars.
Am I over-selling? I can’t help it. I eat these almost daily, and I’m a BIG fan.
I’ve played around a lot with different sweeteners for this recipe, including honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and molasses (ew – don’t try that one), and finally settled on the combination of rice syrup and honey. Rice syrup, though extraordinarily sweet on its own and a bit higher on the glycemic index than I’d like, provides the PERFECT chewy texture when mixed with the honey, and there’s not much in here, about a teaspoon per bar. If you can’t find it (I buy it at Whole Foods), you can substitute the same amount of maple syrup.
You can buy pre-chopped nuts, or chop them in a food processor, but I like to use the satisfying technique of tumbling them into a large ziploc bag and pounding the heck out of them with a meat tenderizer until they’re in tiny pieces. Such a great way to work through feelings.
The base here is grains, nuts, seeds, and fruit, and you should feel free to play around with flavors you like. The combo below is my family’s favorite, but you won’t mess anything up by subbing dried apples and peanut butter, if you like that combo, or dried apricots and ginger (ooh, that sounds good). This is not a recipe that is affected by altitude, and it doesn’t have to be babied.
For the recipe as it’s written, I will say this: don’t omit the vanilla. When it melds with the almond butter and honey, some sort of culinary sorcery happens, and the flavor is just so good. SO GOOD. I dare you to not to lick the spoon after mixing.
Berry Almond Butter Superfood Bars
A substantial, satisfying treat, these bars taste like a cookie but are healthy enough to justify eating for breakfast.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 32 bars
- Category: snacks, sweets, clean eating
3 cups (9 oz) quick rolled oats (if you are cooking for the gluten-sensitive, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1 cup (1 oz) puffed millet (or puffed quinoa or puffed brown rice – found in the cereal section of most health food stores)
2 TB flax seeds
1 TB chia seeds
1 cup (4 oz) cashews, chopped
1 cup (4 oz) roasted or raw almonds, chopped
1/4 cup (1 oz) toasted pumpkin seeds
1 heaping cup (10 oz) almond butter (or other nut butter)
1 cup (12 oz) honey
1/2 cup (6 oz) brown rice syrup (or, if unavailable, maple syrup)
2 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (6 oz) dried blueberries (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup (6 oz) dried cherries (or other dried fruit)
Preheat oven to 325° and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving plenty of overlap (you can use a 9×13 baking dish as well, but your bars will be thicker/smaller/fewer).
In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed millet, seeds, and chopped nuts. Spread mixture on the prepared baking sheet and toast at 325° for 10 mins or until the nuts become fragrant and slightly browned. While the grain mixture is toasting, combine almond butter, honey, and brown rice syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat on med-low, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.
When the toasted nuts and grains are cool enough to touch, carefully lift up the corners of your parchment and tip it all back into the big mixing bowl. Add salt, cinnamon, and dried fruit. Slowly add the liquid mixture and stir until completely combined. Press into the same parchment-lined baking sheet, using a silicone spatula or your fingers (if you use your fingers, dip them in a little oil so they don’t stick). Return pan to the 325° oven and bake for about 15 minutes more (check starting at about 10 minutes to make sure they don’t get too brown).
Remove to a rack and let cool until firm, then cut into bars. Definitely eat one while it’s a tiny bit warm and at its most cookie-like. Store in an airtight container, separating layers of bars with parchment or wax paper (or they WILL stick together). Keep in the fridge or other cool, dry place.