Back to School Gluten-Free Spiced Ginger Coconut Cashew Protein Granola Bars
As a child I was never much of a sandwich girl, but I always looked forward to the satisfying crunch and variety of flavors of a good granola bar inside my lunchbox! Nowadays, I still enjoy a great granola bar but prefer to make my own to avoid any unnecessary additives, refined sugars or artificial flavors.
A granola bar is a convenient grab and go snack or dessert option that you can pack full of hearty, wholesome ingredients to keep your energy stable and satisfy your hunger. This version is soft, moist and has the right amount of satisfying texture. They are easy to throw together and pack well.
My Simple | Pure | WholeTM Back to School Gluten-Free Spiced Ginger Coconut Cashew Protein Granola Bars are gluten-free and egg-free and can be made nut-free, dairy-free and vegan with a few modifications! They pack a good balance of carbohydrates and protein without too much added sugar to provide sustained energy without a crash. They are a welcome addition to any lunchbox or as a quick breakfast, dessert or snack. This recipe also makes a nice post-workout recovery mini-meal since it has a good amount of protein and is low in added sugar.
These bars combine the flavors of coconut, cashews and fresh ginger for a tropical flair with a comforting burst of cinnamon. Add a pinch of cardamom for a burst of extra spice flavor. If your kids are not big fans of ginger you can substitute fresh organic lemon or orange zest for a fresh, light taste.
Quinoa flakes have a similar texture to rolled oats and provide the nutritional benefits of quinoa such as added protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free seed that can act like a culinary grain. It provides all nine essential amino acids along with fiber and a variety of minerals. If you cannot find quinoa flakes, you can substitute gluten-free rolled oats.
Cashews add a creamy, almost buttery flavor along with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Approximately 75% of their unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid which has been shown to help reduce high triglyceride levels. They also provide magnesium and calcium for healthy bones and nerve function. If you need a nut-free option, you can easily swap out the cashews for sunflower, hemp or other seeds so everyone can enjoy them.
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To add more protein without lots of added refined sugar, I used Siggi’s Icelandic Skyr in this recipe since it has 3-4 times the amount of protein as regular yogurts and is low in added sugars. It is made from milk of cows that have never been treated with growth hormones and does not contain additives, artificial sweeteners or thickeners. One standard 5.3oz container of the vanilla flavor I used here contains 14 grams of protein and only 9 grams of sugar. You could also use a strained coconut milk yogurt for a vegan option, but it will not be as high in protein.
- 2 cups quinoa flakes (or gluten-free rolled oats)
- 3/4 cup quinoa flakes (or gluten-free rolled oats) ground into a coarse flour (to make 1/2 cup ground flour)
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice krispies
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup cashews, finely chopped (use soaked sunflower seeds or tigernuts for nut-free option)
- 1 Tablespoon chia or hemp seeds
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seed (for nut-free option) or almond butter or cashew butter
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup coconut nectar or honey or pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 (5.3 oz) cups vanilla Siggi's skyr (substitute with strained dairy-free yogurt for dairy-free, vegan option)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a glass baking dish (approx. 9x9 or 10x8 inches) with a piece of unbleached parchment paper, forming a sling to make the bars easier to lift out.
- In a large bowl, combine Skyr and vanilla.
- Place 3/4 cup of the quinoa flakes or oats into a food processor (or blender on the lowest speed) and pulse until the ground into 1/2 cup of flour. Add to a large bowl with whole quinoa flakes, brown rice krispies, chopped cashews, seeds, salt and spices.
- Stir skyr into the dry ingredients to combine well.
- Place the seed or nut butter in a small saucepan with coconut oil & coconut nectar and gently warm until warm and pourable. Stir in vanilla extract and combine well.
- Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is evenly combined and moistened.
- Firmly press the mixture into the prepared pan until tightly packed.
- Bake for ~20-25 minutes until firm and lightly golden along the edges.
- Place dish on a cooling rack to cool completely before carefully loosening the ends with a spatula or knife and lifting out granola slab. Slice into bars. They are even easier to cut without crumbling if you place them in the fridge or freezer to chill first.
- Once completely dry, store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer until ready to enjoy!
- You can also individually wrap and freeze the bars until needed. Remove at least 1 hour before desired to eat to allow them to fully defrost. This also works well for transporting them in your lunchbox!
These Simple | Pure | WholeTM Back to School Gluten-Free Spiced Ginger Coconut Cashew Protein Granola Bars are hearty, chewy and crunchy with real food nutrition to get you or your child through a busy afternoon. I love to pack one in my non-toxic lunchbox for a busy day on the go or take them along as a filling hiking snack!
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What is your favorite granola bar flavor? Did you have a special go-to lunchbox snack as a child?
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