Snack Time: Gluten-Free Nola Bars

I'm a snack fiend. It's true. I love crunchy snacks - during my undergraduate career, one of my roommates and I lived off of popcorn during finals time. I love fruity snacks, salty snacks...basically I'm non-discriminatory towards all snack products.  What I don't like? Snacks that have more ingredients than a pizza and ingredients that I can't pronounced.  That's why I decided to take charge of my snacking and decided to make my own. I love little portable delicious bites that I can take to work or put in bag for a pre or post workout snack.  I think it may have something to do with my obsession of all things small. Weird? Yes. But true. My fiance loves easy ready-made snacks as well. We both love bars, so it only seemed natural to start making our own.

After doing some serious internet research and making a few attempts, I think I finally found a granola bar recipe that is fool-proof.  This recipe is more a template - a guideline if you will.  They are super easy to make and you can make a different version everytime.

Simple, delicious, and healthy. Yum.

Gluten-free Granola Bars

This recipe is more of a template. Feel free to use any dried fruit, nuts, and other add-ins that you like!

Also, you can make this recipe as sweet or not-sweet as you like - simply adjust the amount of honey or other sweetener.

2 cups oatmeal, gluten-free

1 1/2 cups almond meal *

1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit, processed or chopped

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup coarsely ground/chopped hazelnuts or other nut of choice

honey to taste

pinch of salt

approx. 1/3 cup water - this will vary greatly

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line your baking pan with parchment or a silicon baking sheet (I used a large cake pan, but feel free to use a jelly roll pan, brownie pan, or whatever pan you would like!).

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except honey and water.

* I made my own almond meal, however it is available at most stores.  You can make any type of nut flour by placing nuts in food processor (for almonds - blanched and slivered, for others just make sure the skins are removed) and pulse until it reaches desired consistency.  Don't turn the processor on full force, or you will end up with nut butter (which is also delicious!). Store in the fridge and enjoy.

3. Add your desired amount of honey or other liquid sweetener and stir to combine.

4. Add water sparingly until the mixture is moist and holds together when squeezed. Add the water slowly as you don't want the mixture to be too wet.

5. Pour the mixture into the pan and firmly press down into the pan.  Really press down and make sure it is all compacted.

6. Using a sharp knife, cut the bars into your desired shape.

7. Pop the bars in the oven for around 25 minutes until the bars are golden brown.

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