A Recipe to Fall in Love With: Dark Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars

February is not only known for Valentine’s day, but it is also Celebration of Chocolate Month, National Cherry Month, and National Fiber Focus Month.  I wanted to bring all these amazing things together and share a healthy recipe that you can share with your Valentine this year.  No Valentine?  Even better–you don’t have to share.

I’ve discovered that store bought granola bars are not always as healthy as they seem, and often have tons of added sugar and artificial ingredients.  Homemade granola bars are not only healthier but are also much tastier.  This version is packed with fiber from chia seeds and oats, and protein from a variety of nuts and seeds.  The combination of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and dried cherries makes this the perfect, healthy Valentine’s day treat.

Dark Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars with Chia Seeds, Almonds & Coconut

Makes about 12-15 granola bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed pitted dates, quartered
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped almonds (I used roasted unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 (or maybe a little more ) cup roughly chopped dark chocolate (or use chips/chunks)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Note: You can swap any of the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for others that you have on hand or prefer!


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Toast the oats for about 10-15 minutes until slightly brown and fragrant. Let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325.
  2. Soak the dates in water for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients excluding the oats (seeds, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, sea salt).
  4. In a small food processor, blend half of the oats (3/4 cup) into flour. Add the oat flour and remaining whole oats into the dry mixture.
  5. Add the dates/water and almond butter into the food processor and blend until smooth. Mix into the dry mixture.
  6. Line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Press the granola bar mixture into a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick layer. Press it in very firmly for a few minutes, this will help keep them from falling apart after baking.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm and slightly brown. Allow to cool completely and then cut them into bars (or hearts).
  8. Share with someone you love and enjoy!  You can wrap these individually and keep them in the freezer if you have left overs…although I doubt they will last that long!

 

 

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