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Monday, February 10, 2014

Chewy Caramel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars


Its the start of another cold, snowy week here, but this morning the sun is shining bright.  I am happy to say our new breakfast rule is continuing to make mornings go much smoother.  We were out the door in good time today, which always puts me in a better mood.  The girls were also in good spirits, partially because they were thrilled to have one of their new favorite treats packed in their lunches.

This recipe I made for the girls got me the ultimate compliment from the girls: They thought they tasted as good as all the ones, "Made by big companies".  In other words, just as decadent as the sugar-filled nightmares you get at the grocery store.  Believe me, coming from them, this is a big compliment.  In fact, they taste so sweet and delicious, they were actually a bit surprised I let them eat them.  Well, no sense bursting their bubble and telling them these are healthy.  In fact, they are sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free and vegan.  That can be our little secret!

I loved the idea of using a date-caramel base that Angela from Oh She Glows used in hers.  I also love that hers are sugar-free and nut-free (so the girls can take them to school), but hers are filled with seeds and seeds are a no-go for Little A, who classifies them in to the 'bits' category that she refuses to eat from.  [She was initially suspicious of the millet, because they "look like seeds", and, in fact, like quinoa, they are actually a seed, not a real grain, but once she tried them, she was smitten and didn't complain about these 'bits'.]

So I modified the recipe...quite a bit to come up with what I thought would be appealing for my kiddos.  These were a massive, massive success.  I'm pretty proud of myself, if I do say so myself.

I didn't have Medjool dates, so I used what I had and they worked perfectly.  You can use either kind, but Medjool are way more expensive than honey dates.  Whatever kind you use, just make sure they are pitted!!

Chewy Caramel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (Inspired by this recipe)

2 cups dates
1 cup boiling water
2 tbls lucuma powder (optional)
1 dropper full of English Toffee stevia (or vanilla or plain*) liquid, or to taste
2 tbls chia seeds
2 cups oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
1 cup millet
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sugar-free chocolate chips

Cover dates with boiling water and soak until very soft.  Drain dates, reserving all the soaking liquid.  Stir chia seeds into 1/4 cup of hot soaking liquid and set aside.  Puree dates in food processor.  Add another 1/4 cup of date soaking liquid, lucuma powder (if using), and stevia and process until smooth.  Add oats and pulse until well combined.  Add millet and salt and pulse a few times until mixed.  Stir in chips by hand. 

Press mixture firmly and evenly into a parchment-lined 9x12 baking pan.  Bake at 350F for about 16 minutes.  Let cool completely and then cut into desired size bars.  Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (guaranteed they won't last that long!!).

*If you use plain stevia, add 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract.

I have submitted this recipe to this week's Gluten-Free Friday, Wellness Weekend, Saturday Night Fever, and Urban Naturale recipe roundups.