Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Grain Free Granola Bars

My sister recently introduced me to Kind Bars as a clean-ish, low carb snack option while I’m trying to lose this baby weight. I’m not normally huge into protein bars, because let’s face it, they’re usually about as healthy for you as a candy bar, but I did like that they are made with mostly nuts and seeds (something I always have in my pantry because my husband and I are trail mix junkies) and low carb.

So it turns out Kind Bars are delicious, but a few things bothered me about them:
1. They use peanuts as cheap filler.
2. They use rice cereal as cheap filler.
3. The have refined sugar and a few other ingredients I’m not interested in.

I like to make things at home whenever I can because I prefer to avoid overly processed food whenever possible. With that being said, I was able to recreate this almost healthy snack into something positively healthy in my own kitchen. Not to mention, these are so easy and fun to make (like, so easy your kids can help and you won’t want to pull your hair out by the end). I can’t wait to create some new variations, but I decided to start with a classic Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt bar because those are always go to flavors for my husband and me.
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These are so easy, and so delicious, and slightly difficult to not overdo it on. Seriously, I finish one, and it takes all of my willpower to wait for tomorrow to have another (portions are one of the things I’m really focusing on with losing this baby weight). I’d also like to mention that I gave a Kind bar to my husband, and he was unimpressed, then he tried mine, and said, “I’ll eat this all day. This is way better than that processed crap.” So there it is… homemade *almost* always wins.

If you’ve ever made granola at home, this is a really similar process- the biggest difference is we’re leaving out the oats- which makes these grain free! Using maple syrup instead of refined sugar also makes these paleo (yes, dark chocolate is allowed on the paleo diet!).

Basically, combine your nuts and seeds in a bowl. Toss them in the maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon, and press firmly into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Start with 1/3 cup of maple syrup, and add a bit more if the mixture seems too dry. The maple syrup will caramelize in the oven and make all of these ingredients mold together to form the bars. Be sure to use a spatula to press the ingredients together firmly, or they will fall apart. The smaller seeds will help with this too. Seriously, look at how gorgeous that mix is!

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Sprinkle sea salt over the bars before putting them in the oven. I didn’t put an exact amount because this is really to your taste. Add more if you really like the sea salt flavor with the sweet maple syrup, but add less if you just want a touch of savory. Bake the nut and seed mixture for 32-34 minutes at 325 degrees.

You can allow the bars to cool by simply turning off the oven and opening the door slightly, or taking them out of the oven completely, but give them at least an hour to cool before removing from the pan and cutting. It may be tempting to cut them sooner, but don’t do it. They really need that time cooling completely so they will stick. The mix will come out as a giant block of caramelized goodness, but if you try to take it out of the parchment too soon, it will be a sticky mess.

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You can cut them into whatever size you’d like, but make sure you are using a sharp knife and cutting straight down in one motion- no sawing at the bars! I made 12 bars with an 8×8 pan.

Lastly, melt the coconut oil and dark chocolate chips together in a microwave safe bowl by microwaving for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between until the chocolate is smooth. Drizzle the chocolate over the bars (or dip the bars if you want more chocolate), and sprinkle them with another pinch of sea salt. Refrigerate them for the chocolate to harden.

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You can store these in the refrigerator or to save for even longer, you can make a big batch to freeze. I love to eat these cold right out of the refrigerator, but you can allow them to sit out if you’d rather enjoy at room temperature.

This is pretty much as good as healthy snacking gets in my opinion! Like I said, this is just one variation, and I can’t wait to create more to share with you. Have an awesome week!

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Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Grain Free Granola Bars

  • Servings: 12 bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
2 cups almonds*
1/2 cup walnuts*
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds*
1/3 cup sunflower seeds*
1 tbsp sesame seeds*
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
Course sea salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil

***I buy all of my nuts and seeds raw and unsalted. This is your best option!

1. Combine nuts and seeds in medium sized bowl.
2. Add maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon, and toss until nuts and seeds are coated. If mixture seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of maple syrup.
3. Pour mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Use a spatula or the back of a large spoon to press nuts and seeds firmly together into the pan. Sprinkle with course sea salt.
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 32-34 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for at least an hour.
5. When bars are cooled, cut into desired size (I cut mine into 12 bars).
6. Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 15 seconds at a time stirring in between until chocolate is smooth.
7. Drizzle chocolate over bars (or dip the bars if you want more chocolate), and sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt. Refrigerate for chocolate to set.
8. Store in the refrigerator or freezer if you’d like them to last longer.

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