I used to buy fruit and nut bars (like the packaged brands above) to take on hikes or to eat at work as a mid-morning snack. I wanted to make my own fruitfully nutty bars with ingredients I could control, and save money at the same time. After a few experiments, I developed an easy recipe which tastes great, holds together well, and is pretty healthy.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed or flax meal, mixed with 2 tablespoons of hot water - this mixture helps to hold the bar together
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 2/3 cups coarsely chopped nuts and seeds (I used a mixture of cashews and pumpkin seeds)
- 2/3 cup dried fruit (e.g. raisins, chopped dates, dried cranberries)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or coarsely shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup puffed quinoa, or popped amaranth or other small puffed grain
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Note - you can skip the coconut, quinoa or sesame seeds if you don't like them, but make sure you substitute a similar amount of very finely chopped nuts in their place to maintain the same ratio of wet to dry ingredients. These last 3 optional items are small and help to hold the bar together and improve its texture.
Step 2: Combine Liquid Ingredients
Stir together the corn syrup, the flaxseed and water mixture. Stir in the peanut butter.
Step 3: Add Nuts and Seeds and Dried Fruit
Add the nuts and seeds and stir.
Add the dried fruit and stir.
Add the last 3 ingredients (coconut, quinoa and sesame sesame seeds) and stir well until everything is combined.
Step 4: Bake in Prepared Pan
- Line an 8" X 8" pan with parchment paper, using paper at least twice as long as the pan
- Pour batter into pan and flatten with the back of a spoon
- Fold the parchment paper over the batter, and use your hands, or roll a small can, to further flatten and compress the batter, so there are no air holes or empty spaces
- Unfold the parchment paper from on top of the batter
- Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Cool and Cut Into Bars or Squares
Cool at least an hour at room temperature, and another hour or more in the fridge.
Cut into 8 bars, or 16 squares.
Step 6: Wrap and Serve!
These bars can be wrapped in plastic wrap to take for lunch or on a hike.
You can also partially wrap them to serve at a party as in the above photo. I used hair elastics with flowers on them to hold parchment paper around the bars. The paper makes them easier to hold.