Y’all. Nothing takes it out of me more than traveling does. As much as I love adventuring and exploring new cities, I always need a day to recover – I definitely not alone on that one, right?? I was out in Cali this week because drum roll please…………I’m moving to Sacramento! I don’t think I ever once thought that I would end up in California, let alone Sacramento, but here I am! I guess that’s why you should never rely fully on your quote unquote “ten year plan” because that plan can change before you even realize and then bam you end up on the west coast.
While traveling is always an exciting experience – it’s easy to find yourself without any really good snacking options – especially if you are trying to stick to an overall healthy diet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for treating yourself on vacations and travel excursions because trying new foods at local restaurants and shops is all the jazz, but it’s those in between times like hanging out at the airport or between day trips where you don’t have your fully stocked kitchen and usual go-to snackies that can totally derail you. I was quickly reminded of that challenge while browsing the newsstand shops at the airport where the so-called healthiest options included cheese, pretzels, and a yogurt parfait. Not bad options per se – I mean hey, they are better than a bag of candy that you promise you’ll just have a few bites of and then halfway through the flight you realize you’ve scarfed the whole thing down. What I really want from snacks is the ability to fill me up between meals without eating an extreme amount of food while also being something that is easy to transport – enter the granola bar.
I’ve been on what seems like a never ending hunt for the perfect granola/protein bar – something that is full of protein and yummy ingredients but also doesn’t have the texture of chalk or a stale chewy bar and is full of sugar. It’s been real hard yo. I’ve found some good options, like RX Bars or Perfect Bars, but even there I’m not a complete fan of the texture of RX Bars (though my friends will preach to the high heavens about them!) nor the super long list of ingredients in Perfect Bars (I do always have one or two of the chocolate PB flavor in my fridge for emergency lack of food situations!). Due to these issues, I started thinking about the idea of making my own granola bars. I know, it seems like a simple solution but I never put any extra thought into creating my own bar until a few weeks ago. I knew what I wanted in a bar :: something nutty in flavor without being overwhelmingly peanut flavored, some texture and sweetness without the addition of extra sugar, and a bar that will actually keep me full between meals. And now here is the final result!
These Sun Butter Bars are my JAM and I’m excited to share the recipe with y’all after doing two different tests on them.
So why did I choose sunflower seed butter over a normal nut butter like peanut? Well if you’ve kept up with m Ayurvedic learning – peanuts are among the nuts that are to be avoided/limited for Pitta types – you could certainly substitute with peanut or almond butter if you prefer those, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my newfound love of sunflower seed butter. It’s got a milder nuttier flavor that peanut butter and is almost slightly sweeter – I make my own by just blending up roasted and salted sunflower seeds in a food processor. I made three different versions of this bar ::
Chocolate and Coconut
Dried Fruit and Coconut
Ultimate Loaded Nut and Seed Bar
You can totally customize to include your favorite mix-ins or whatever you have on hand (I like to think of these guys as those garbage can cookies where you literally toss in everything you can find in the pantry and call it a day). I personally love anything with chocolate, and these bars feel more like a treat when I add (80 – 90% cacao) chocolate. My favorite blend so far has been one with chocolate chunks, dried apricots, and cranberries. Just make sure that there is enough sun butter coating to hold the bars together and that you let them rest up in the fridge to hold their shape. Happy bar making!
sunflower butter granola bars
yields 6 large bars
time :: 10 minutes prep, rest overnight
1/2 cup of sunflower butter (I make mine homemade)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of toppings/mix-ins (dried fruit, coconut shreds, nuts, seeds, chocolate, etc.)
- in a large bowl add the sun butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. combine into a smooth mixture.
- add the oats and toppings of choice and combine until everything is coated in the sun butter mix and evenly combined.
- line a square 8×8″ pan with parchment paper and pour in the oat mix. press down into one even layer and add and press in additional toppings.
- place pan in the fridge overnight to set up.
- remove un-cut bars from the pan and cut into even bar shapes. store in an airtight container (I keep mine in the fridge) – enjoy!