Marrying health with not only taste but ease and interest is something I aim for – most days. I’ve got better at it over the years, I think. Not only in my day-to-day cooking adventures but in recipe development for work, brands and here on my tiny slice of cyberspace. As we all seem to be spreading ourselves more thinly, many of us are looking for recipes and ideas that deliver a lot for very little effort, myself included.
Today’s easy-peasy recipe is pretty representative of where I want to go with my food – mixing the familiar with the more novel in a way that is both accessible and (hopefully) intriguing: specifically, oats, seeds, coconut, black treacle, turmeric, maca, matcha green tea, yuzu powder.
Without wanting to brag, these are the best granola bars I’ve ever made. Note the “I’ve ever made”, not “I’ve ever had”. But I’m happy with that.
Granola bars are tricky little beasts. You would think that with the simple ingredients you could just mix it all together and all would be well. You would be wrong. Getting the right balance of stickability is not for the impatient or slap-dash: too much and you risk an emergency visit to the dentist; too little and it falls apart in your hands. Commercial granola bars rely on a combination of sugars, baking and voodoo to weld the whole thing together in a most disconcertingly homogenous way. Being unschooled in voodoo my minimally -sweetened and unbaked granola bars are no match for the uniform look of the bought ones. Tricky little beasts, indeed.
Maybe you have cracked the to-me elusive combination of healthy and cohesive granola bar, but I confess that for all that I think this is a winner as far as the tricky balance of taste and health, these do crumble a bit. I hope that’s not a deal breaker for you. I think of the crumbly bits that one gets when cutting these up as bonuses to add into yogurt, on top of a scoop of the something fruity and frozen, popped into the mouth as the baker’s perk.
It’s not as bad as I am making out, but I don’t want you to think you will get a perfectly formed bar. Scoring your batch before cooling will definitely help. Perhaps adding a bit of mashed banana would do the trick (not a banana fan as sweetener I’m afraid – too dominant). I realise my less than pro-looking bars are because I err on the side of not very much sugar and adding in healthy powders and lots of whole foods, but I’d rather eat my slightly crumbly, nutritious bites than what passes for healthy granola bars at the shops. In any case, a good dunking in melted dark chocolate will cure the crumbliest of granola bars, right? But if you are up for it, these are amazing with the optional yuzu drizzle.
I’ve saved posting this until St Patrick’s Day, but these are no novelty green food so make them up for any day. Besides, they aren’t very green. These granola bites are perfect for lunch boxes and after-school/3 pm snacking, and keep very well for up to a week. Not bad for a low effort, effort.
Are you eating anything green for St Patrick’s Day? How is your granola bar game? Care to share your secrets?
Matcha Green Tea Granola Bites with Yuzu Drizzle
Heavily adapted from a recipe in Clean, Green Eats by Candace Kumai.
These granola bites are very easy to make, but as they are no-bake treats they need to be handled with a little care. We took some to the beach recently and ate them without any crumbling, but it was a cold day.
The yuzu drizzle is brilliant – the two Japanese ingredients of matcha and yuzu are made for each other – but completely optional. Not everyone has yuzu powder or juice: use lemon juice instead, eschew completely for a bare bar, or even douse in melted chocolate. xx
100g (1 cup) whole rolled oats
50g (1/2 cup) green pumpkin seeds/pepitas
60g (3/4 cup) flaked almonds
50g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
60g (1/2 cup) Grape Nuts cereal, soaked in warm water or green tea for 10 minutes and drained (or use 1 & 1 /2 cups oats)
12g (1/2 cup) puffed quinoa or amaranth – optional
20g (1/2 cup) shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp maca powder – optional
2 tbsp chia seeds or flax seeds, lightly ground
1 rounded tsp matcha tea – the less expensive culinary grade is fine here
1/2 tsp ground turmeric, optional
85g (1/4 cup) black treacle/blackstrap molasses (they are not the same thing, but either are fine here)
85g (1/4 cup) maple syrup
180g (3/4 cup) cashew or almond butter
1 rounded tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 tbsp yuzu powder
5 tbsp powdered/icing sugar
Enough water to make a drippy drizzle!
OR melt about 100g dark best quality chocolate (I like Lindt or Green and Black’s cooking chocolate)
1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/350F (this is for toasting some of the ingredients). Completely line a 9 x 13 tin or glass dish with parchment paper, with some of the paper sticking up so you can lift it all out to cut up.
2. Put oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes on a baking tray and bake in the oven for eight minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
3. Meanwhile, pop the wet ingredients into a large saucepan and heat through, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula.
4. Add everything from the tray and all of the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and turn well with a spoon or spatula. Press the mixture (it will smell amazing!) into the lined tin or dish, folding the paper over it (or use a sheet of cling film) to really press down and get any air out. Smooth your hand along it, score it with a sharp knife, cover and let it cool and harden for at least an hour before cutting. If it is warm where you are, pop it in the refrigerator. Once cut into squares, drizzle over the sweet yuzu mixture or melted dark chocolate. Andrew likes them bare. The bars, not himself.
Other Green Tea Treats on Food To Glow
If you are wanting some savoury green food, why not try my Vegan No-Chicken Salad, Jalapeño-Ranch Kale Chips, Vegan Miso Creamed Kale, Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade Gratin, Wild Greens, Chickpea and Ricotta-Feta Borek/Pie, Pea & Coriander Dip, or Broccoli, Spinach & Wild Rice Phyllo Pie? I’ve got loads of “green” foods, so have a look through my messy, sprawling index for more ideas.
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