No Bake, Simple Granola Bars

A while ago, I was turned off of pre-made granola bars because of the long ingredient lists that I simply did not understand. However, this year my program was busy and it became harder to find healthy snacks on the go. I was able to make a batch of these granola bars on Sunday, wrap them up, freeze them and have fairly healthy snacks for the weeks ahead. Sometimes I would make double batches because it was just as easy, I had less "meal prep" days and I could share with my training buddies. I put them in my camel back for bike rides, in my water belt for long runs, in my gym bag for after my weight sessions, and sometimes on a plate for dessert! 

Ingredients 
- 1c pitted dried dates
- 4T (1/4c) honey (maple syrup or agave or try coconut oil)
- 4T (1/4c) coconut almond butter (peanut butter or other nut butter)
- 1 2/3c rolled oats
- 1c combination of any nuts/seeds (pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc)
- 1t vanilla
- 1t cinnamon
- ½c chocolate chips
- 1/2T coconut oil
- 1/2c shredded unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions:
Step 1: I don’t have a food processor, so I put all of the dates into a blender. I blended the dates until they were well blended and created a ball. 
 
** (The dates should form a sticky ball. If the dates are too dry you can soak them in warm water for 7 minutes, drain and then blend OR add a little bit of warm water to the blender)

Step 2: Add the nut butter and honey to a pan or pot and warm gently on low until melted. Keep stirring. Don’t allow this to overcook!

Step 3: Add the nuts and oats to large mixing bowl. Stir. 
*If you want full chocolate chips in your granola bars, add them now. 
**You can also add the shredded coconut flakes now to mix in with the other ingredients or you can wait and sprinkle them on top (see below))


Step 4: Add the blended dates, honey-nut butter, cinnamon and vanilla to the mixture and mix until well incorporated.



Step 5: Line a baking tray with plastic wrap or parchment paper. 

Step 6: Pour the recipe into the baking tray and spread out along the tray as evenly as possible. Use your hand and then something clean and hard to press the mixture down to make it well packed and compressed. 

***(If you want melted chocolate on top of your bars put your chocolate chips into a pot with 1/2T of coconut oil, gently heat on low, while stirring until the chocolate is melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the bars. You can sprinkle coconut flakes on top of this)***




Step 7: Cover and put in the fridge or freezer for about 30minutes or until they are firm.

Step 8: I cut the bars, individually wrap them and store them in the freezer. The colder they are the better they hold their form for training, running, sharing, etc.

 Step 9: Nom Nom Nom Nom!



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