Back to school season has officially arrived and I myself am getting ready to go back in the next 2 weeks. As I mentally prepare to take on organic chemistry and microbiology this coming fall, I have also been preparing some new snack and meal ideas that are convenient and delicious to grab and go. As much as I enjoy cooking, when school time comes around, I find myself being so exhausted that the last thing I want to do is spend any extra time in the kitchen. Between work, school, and just life, in general, I try to make it as easy and painless as possible to create healthy options that can be put together in no time at all. I find that preparing in advance helps me to prevent from spending more money than I usually would and make healthier choices because let’s be honest, on-campus options are not typically what I would call healthy.
Many prepackaged treats that are typically sold at convenience stores or on campus are usually pretty high in preservatives like salt and/or sugar and are usually low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Although prepackaged treats are convenient, they are also not the most budget-friendly option as granola bars can run you anywhere from $5-$10. So instead of spending your money on a quick fix that will still leave you hungry, I decided I would give you a delicious and healthy option that will deter you from ever buying store-bought granola bars again. The recipe I will be sharing with you today is made with few and simple ingredients, contains no added sugar and is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They come together in about 15 minutes and are so versatile. Whether you’re on the go to work or school, I think you will find these granola bars are the perfect snack to keep on hand when you need consistent energy to get through your busy day.
Before we get into the recipe let me first say that this recipe is completely customizable as you can add, take away, or substitute something else to make this recipe your own. Add in some peanut butter, dried fruit, or any other type of nuts and seeds and you’re good to go. But the point of this recipe is to show you just how simple it can be to make your own treats at home.
◊ Makes about 16 granola bars
- 1 cup fresh pitted dates (Medjool or Deglet works)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 3/4 cups oats
- 1/4 cup roasted no salt cashews
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds “pepitas”
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- optional: extra dark chocolate to drizzle
- Optional step: Preheat oven to 350°F and spread out oats on baking pan to slightly brown for 5-7 minutes.
- Once oats are slightly browned allow them to cool completely and set aside.
- In a food processor or blender add in fresh dates and maple syrup and combine until there are no longer any large chunks of dates and it is a relatively smooth paste. (If your dates are not very moist you may need to add in 1 tbsp of hot water at a time until it is the texture of a paste)
- In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate chips, and the date/maple mixture until completely combined.
- Make sure the date/maple mixture is equally distributed and then in a pan lined with parchment paper (I used an 8 x 8 pan) press the mixture in and even out with your hands or spatula.
- Once the mixture has been evenly spread out set aside in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes.
- Cut into the desired shape and as an optional step, drizzle or dip in additional chocolate.
These granola bars have been a part of my weekly preparation for the last few weeks and they have been a huge hit with my boyfriend. The nuts and seeds help to keep you full and satisfied for a longer period of time and also contribute important trace minerals such as copper, magnesium, and potassium just to name a few. I highly recommend incorporating nuts and seeds into your diet as they help to ensure you don’t miss any extra nutrients. They also provide a healthy serving of plant-based protein and healthy fats that give you that steady flow of energy throughout the day. Like I mentioned, the ingredients are completely customizable to your own taste buds so get creative and use what you have. If you try these out for yourself tag us in a picture on our Instagram @lifeatthemesa! Best of luck and be sure to sign up to receive our emails to stay up to date on my latest posts!