A granola bar—at least many of the kinds that come in a package—are a poor substitution for those real, whole foods. Too often they make you think you’re feeding yourself well, when in truth, your body is craving whole foods and ingredients you can recognize. Enter this homemade granola bar from my book, Feast—a fix for busy times when you need some energy on the go. I can’t promise you a granola bar with vegetables in it, but I did work long and hard to create one loaded with whole grains (think: oats + millet), potent proteins (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds) and just enough fruit (dates) and maple syrup to sweeten and get it all to stick together.
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GENMAICHA GRANOLA BARS
MAKES 8 TO 10 BARS
2 cups/170 g old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup/60 g millet
¹⁄₃ cup/30 g raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp raw unseasoned pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp fine sea salt
¹⁄₃ cup/50 g toasted pecans
¹⁄₃ cup/50 g toasted skin-on almonds
Packed 1 cup/170 g pitted Medjool dates
¹⁄₃ cup/75 ml Grade B maple syrup, plus more as needed
¼ cup/60 ml honey or brown rice syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp genmaicha tea leaves
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C/gas 3. Line an 8-in/20-cm square baking pan with parchment paper so that there are overlapping flaps.
Step 2: Stir together the oats, millet, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cinna¬mon, and salt in a medium bowl.
Step 3: Pulse the pecans and almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped (it’s okay if some nuts are coarsely ground and others a little powdery). Stir into the oat mixture.
Step 4: Pulse the dates in a food processor until a thick paste forms. Add the maple syrup, honey, and vanilla and pulse until a purée forms. Scrape out the purée with a rubber spatula and stir into the oat mixture. Add the genmaicha tea leaves and continue stirring (your clean hands work best) until the oats and nuts are sticky and coated with the purée. If the mixture doesn’t clump together easily, add up to 1 tbsp of maple syrup.
Step 5: Transfer the granola to the prepared baking pan and press into a smooth, even layer. Bake until just starting to brown around the edges, about 25 minutes. Transfer to the counter to cool slightly in the baking pan, about 15 minutes. Grab the flaps of parchment paper, lift out the whole batch, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into eight to ten bars while still warm. Let them cool completely and serve at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite and is the food director of Real Simple magazine. She spent six years as a lead recipe developer for Food Network, and has appeared as a guest chef on Good Morning America. Her articles and recipes have been featured in numerous magazines, including Fitness, Health, Food Network Magazine, Saveur, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living, and she has contributed to several cookbooks. In 2012, Sarah published her first cookbook, The Newlywed Cookbook, shortly after beginning her own marriage to a vegetarian. A former omnivore herself, Sarah was determined to make him wonderful, flavorful vegetarian food. Her new book, Feast, comes out of her commitment to that goal. She lives in New York City.