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One of my friends likes to make fun of the fact that I snack on what she calls “bird seed” because I usually seek out anything seed and nut based when I need to pick up something to eat on the go. I can’t blame her because I am a self proclaimed addict of peanut butter, nuts, and pretty much anything that can be formed into a granola bar shape. For the most part, my cooking is healthy with a variety of fresh things, vegetables, and fruit so I’ve been trying to stay away from over processed food unless it’s really worth it….sometimes you just can’t beat an extra sugary treat. This is why I usually shy away from recipes marked healthy because most of the times they really aren’t and those granola bars I’m constantly snacking on aren’t always the best choice. Last fall I decided to break my pattern of pre-packaged “bird seed” and make my own homemade granola bars for a weekend outing with friends. The dense oat-filled bars tasted pretty good and I was content with my first attempt, but after reading a handful of other recipes that didn’t have any refined sugar I had to try making them again.

Standing in my kitchen, blending dried figs and prunes together to mix with nuts and oats had its own “granola” feel and I felt like all I needed was some folk music playing in the back and linens flapping on clotheslines outside to really go all in with this homemade granola session. Did I mention I also rode my bike to the store to get the ingredients? The purely natural elements aside, the no-bake bars turned into a wholesome snack that were much better than my first sugary attempt and were only sweetened with dried fruit and agave. I’ve already snuck in a few bars as afternoon snacks and I feel much better eating something I made by hand, even if the birds are probably enjoying the same seeds as me.

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Homemade no-bake granola bars: make 10 bars
Recipe adapted from The Minimalist Baker

1/2 cup packed dried prunes
1/2 cup packed dried figs (use a dark soft variety)
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup unsalted peanut butter
1/2 cup roasted unsalted almonds (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios (roughly chopped)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tblsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. salt (I used Maldon salt flakes to give a few salty bites here and there)
1-1/2 cup rolled oats

– Process the prunes and figs in a food processor until smooth. It will form a ball like a dough.
– Place oats, fig/prune mix, cranberries, pistachios, and almonds in a bowl.
– warm the peanut butter and agave in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until warm.
– Pour mixture over oats, nuts, and fruit. Stir to combine breaking up the figs and prunes as you stir.
– Add the chia seeds and salt. Stir to combine.
– Transfer mixture to an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Press the dough into the corners and constantly pressing down to compact the dough. Press until dough is uniform throughout the pan.
– Cover with another sheet or parchment and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Once hardened cut into 10 bars and wrap individually. These can keep in the fridge for a few days.