Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade Gluten Free, Oat Free, Buckwheat Granola Bars Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

One of the staples lots of people have in their homes for quick "nutritious" meals on the go are granola bars, because they assume that it's a healthy food. Store bought granola bars, unfortunately, are far from the health food people make them out to be . But the reason people believe granola bars are a healthy food is because of deceptive advertising. Take a look at Nature Valley granola bars, for example. They claim to be "100% natural", but then their ingredients contain things like high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, soy protein concentrate, maltodextrin, GMO canola oil, and the catch-all "natural flavorings" which very rarely is truly natural, but is manipulated in a lab so it is so far from its original form (take castoreum- written as "natural flavorings" on the package, but is really the secretion from beaver glands manipulated in a lab to taste like vanilla or raspberry) that it can hardly be called "natural". Doesn't seem much like a health food anymore to you, does it? Nature valley is even being sued because of this deceptive advertising, claiming to be a health product when it's not..
And of course, on top of everything else, store bought granola bars are pretty expensive, and making them at home is much cheaper and really not hard at all.

I got a recipe for homemade chewy granola bars about 2 years ago from my friend Debbie, and have made it multiple times since then. I lost the recipe, and then found that her recipe is identical to this one I found on Food.com. 
While its certainly better than store bought granola bars, I don't use brown sugar because most brown sugar sold is just refined beet sugar with added molasses, and I prefer not to use rice crispies if I can help it- both because most rice crispies actually has gluten in it (in the form of malt) and the ones near me without malt in it are contaminated with gluten- I've found actual puffed wheat cereal in the same bag... On top of that, there is some question as to whether extruded cereals, like all puffed cereals, are actually healthy or bad for you- the Weston Price foundation says they're bad... and I? I'm not sure 100%, but I do try to keep my home free of things that can't be made at home, and since its not possible to extrude at home, or at all without special factory equipment, I have my doubts...
But either way, store bought rice crispies aren't so cheap, at least not round these parts. So I'd skip them if I wanted to save money, even regardless of the potential health issues.

I decided to try and make this recipe, updated for my current dietary restrictions, as well as trying to make it even healthier, while keeping it as cheap as possible.
My granola bars are gluten free, oat free (my stomach doesn't do well with oats, even gluten free oats), dairy free, egg free, vegan, and free of processed foods like rice crispies, white sugar, and corn syrup.
They came out perfect!
Mine came out crunchier, and less chewy, but I suspect that it's because I cooked mine a drop too long. I'd like to try them again cooked a drop shorter and see if they're chewy, but even if they're not, that's fine with me.

I'm including the recipe I used, but this recipe is pretty versatile a
nd you can change it up a lot, so long as you keep the ratio of solid to liquid to oil equal. I'll first give my recipe, then the "basic recipe" that you can play around with and make your own mix, if you don't care as much about the health aspect and just want it cheap.
Within the actual recipe, when a few options are given, to make it exactly how I made it this time, vegan, refined sugar free, and gluten free, use the first ingredient listed. I listed the ingredients in order of most ideal to least ideal and worst for you.

Gluten Free, Oat Free, Buckwheat Granola Bars Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

2 1/4 cup raw buckwheat (not kasha which is toasted buckwheat)
1 cup coconut sugar or sucanat (or brown sugar or white sugar)
1/3 cup palm oil or coconut oil or butter (or margarine, or shortening)
2 tablespoons date syrup (or honey or agave nectar or corn syrup)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (or 1 egg)
3 tablespoons boiling water (leave out if using the egg)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or spelt flour or wheat flour, whole wheat or white)
1/2 cup potato starch (or spelt flour wheat flour, whole wheat or white)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (leave out if not making it gluten free)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Alternative Recipe Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup mix of toasted buckwheat, rolled oats, rice crispies, puffed quinoa, puffed wheat, quinoa flakes, etc...
1 cup solid sugar
1/3 cup solid fat
2 tablespoons syrup sweetener
1 egg or 1 egg replacement
1 cup flour (if using gluten free flour, use xanthan gum as a binder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mix of nuts, seeds, and coconut, from walnuts to almonds to cashews to hazelnuts to pumpkin seeds sunflower seeds to sesame seeds to poppy seeds to flax seeds to coconut.
1/3-1/2 cup dried fruit, optional

1. Toast the buckwheat by putting it in a dry frying pan, stirring constantly, until slightly crunchy and pleasantly toasted but not burnt.

2. Chop the nuts, but not too much. I put my almonds in the coffee grinder for a grand total of 5 seconds. Some were large chunks, a few were powdered, and the most was somewhere between the two.

3. Mix the sugar, oil, syrup, flax seeds+water/eggs and combine until uniform.

4. Mix all the powders including various flours, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon until uniform, then mix with the sugar/oil mixture until uniform.

5. Add the rest of the ingredients in and mix. A spoon won't work for this- use your hands.

6. Press the mixture down onto a lined cookie tray, about a half inch thick or a little less. Press it all together so it is a solid mass, but note that the edges probably will flake a bit off and that is ok.

7. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or so or until solid. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn. If you want it chewy instead of crunchy, cook for less time.

8. Remove from oven, and cut into bars with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.

9. Let cool.

10. Store until using. If you want these as a take along snack for those late mornings, stash them in a bag in the freezer.

Do you like granola bars? What is your favorite flavor? Have you ever made granola bars before? What did you put in them? Does this look like a recipe you'd try out, either with my recipe or with the variations?


  1. I made these yesterday, and even though I didn't add the dried fruit, and halved the amount of sweetener to 1/2 cup they were almost too sweet.

    Apart from that, what a great recipe. I added a tsp of dark cocoa powder and used coconut oil and they tasted like a chocolate bar.

  2. where does one get (or how does one make) coconut sugar, "round these parts", as you say? :)

  3. a cup of sugar?!?!

  4. Used to make my own with rolled oats until we found out that like you all oats bother my gluten free family members. It has been so long sense i had a good cheap grab and go snack! Can't wait to make these!

  5. I'm a bit confused - you mention that roasted buckwheat doesn't work in this recipe, but then ask to toast the buckwheat! Is it a question of degree? Lightly toasted vs heavily roasted? Many thanks :o)

  6. Thank you for this recipe! I am definitely going to try these. I lovethat you include the information about cereals. Your recipe mposts are very informative.


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