As we’re embracing warmer climates, we’re thinking of all the different ways we can lighten our load. One way is to simply eat healthier. Light, refreshing, yet nutritious meals are perfect for this time of the year and we’ve checked in with vegan chef, Dana Choi for some inspirations.
"I love these granola bars because they are perfect for busy people on the go, especially after the gym as they are filling and consist of nuts and fibres that provide energy for our brains in which the standard processed western diet seems to be lacking in. I know the granola bars at the supermarket seem convenient because they are right there, but also take a look at the list of ingredients, preservatives and fructose corn syrups the next time you reach for that bar.”
Prep time: 40 mins
This recipe makes about 12 hearty sized bars (13cm x 5cm x 1cm) but can make more if cut smaller to share.
A couple handfuls of dried fruits such as cranberries, raisins or mango. Make sure to chop them up or for those you who like coconut, you can add in coconut flakes. (For my recipe, I added a handful of cranberries, 3 dried mango slices and a handful of raisins.)
- ½ cup chia seeds and separately put 3 tablespoons in bowl to create chia gel by adding 4 tablespoons water.)
- ½ cup quinoa dry
- 2 cup oats
- ¼ cup almond butter or other nut butter (*Nut butters are easy to make! You just need nuts, a little salt and a food processor! So many tutorials online.)
- ½ cup raw almonds chopped
- ¼ cup hemp, sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup walnuts, or other nuts you like such as pecan, brazil, cashew etc.
- ¼ cup dates soaked for 30 min in warm water (*The dates need to be soaked in warm water, stones removed, then blended until paste.)
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons flax seeds grounded
- 4½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean or can alternatively use vanilla extract 2-3 teaspoons
- 3 bananas blended up
- Put all the dry ingredients in a big bowl first then add the liquids and paste.
- Put 3 tablespoons chia seeds in a bowl and create chia gel by adding 4 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes pudding- like.
- Mix the chia gel in with the rest of the ingredients.
- I like to mix all the ingredients together and when it comes to sweeteners, I add them in slowly because I sometimes make granola for people who want it less sweet so I just mix it up and taste it and create different batches. I also give that advice when using salt in recipes.
- The most important part is to try the mixture before you put it in the dehydrator/ oven because if it is too salty for your taste then add more sweetener in there to balance it out or use more oats to fill it up.
- Spread it all out on the non-stick dehydrator sheets. The reason why I like to make the chia paste is so that when I am creating my bars they are smooth to go over - I usually just use a frosting spatula to create this. All that is left to do is cut the size of your bars. Mine measure about 13cm x 5cm x 1cm but you can also make yours thinner, more cracker-like. Be creative!
*I also rolled a couple of balls and put them in the fridge, as these also taste great raw!
- For those who do not use a dehydrator, you can use your ovens and preheat to 160C. Use a parchment lined baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Let it cool down slightly before you slice away.
When I use my dehydrator, I usually keep it low at 46C and check on them every couple of hours until I get the desired chewiness or hardness that I am looking for.
Anywhere from 4-8 hours while flipping it halfway through, I would roll them out on the trays with non- stick sheets or tray liners and slice them with a pizza roller cutter. Alternatively, a non- serrated knife works just as well too!
Hope you enjoy these!
"I would like to suggest to you to experiment and try to make your own granola bars with your favourite ingredients. Once you mix it all in a bowl just squeeze a little ball together and take a bite from your mixture, if it is not sweet enough, add a little more of the sweetener and if you find it lacking in salt, then sprinkle a little more. There have been so many times I followed a recipe and it was good but it was not made to my specifications so I usually adjust it a little bit before it leaves my large mixing bowl!"
Follow Dana on Instagram at @Danaaustinchoi and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/crispycrack