Okay, let’s get this out of the way first:
I LOVE KIND BARS!
Like, I’m kind of obsessed.
They’re delicious, convenient, and made with whole foods. Plus, I love how the KIND company does all sorts of amazing things, like donating $10,000 every month to a Kind Cause.
But as much as I love them, KIND bars absolutely kill my bank account.
Especially since I have a habit of buying Every. Single. Flavor.
So, in an effort to save a little cash, I decided to make my own 😀
I went with a simple fruit & nut combination.
Loads of nuts & seeds (I even splurged on macadamia nuts!) + sweet-tart cranberries & raisins.
Puffed millet cereal acts as a binder & adds a lightness to the bars, and a dash of vanilla extract bumps up the flavor.
To make these bars, I had to buy something I’ve never used before: Brown Rice Syrup.
It’s a great binder – super sticky to hold the components together, but firms up nicely after baking / when cooled in the refrigerator so your bars don’t separate into a gooey mess later on.
So, what is brown rice syrup?
It’s a syrup made by enzymatically breaking down the starch in brown rice.
This produces a 100% glucose syrup that is roughly half as sweet as sugar.
This might sound great at first, since brown rice syrup contains no fructose (which can be tough on the liver in large doses), but it is still a highly refined food & is basically a hit of simple carbohydrates, so I recommend using it in moderation.
In this recipe, 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup is split amongst 24 bars, so each bar contains just 1 teaspoon of sweetener. This is a totally reasonable amount, akin to what you might swirl into a cup of hot tea, or drizzle on fresh Greek yogurt and berries.
So yes, these homemade bars count as “moderate use”. Yipee!
In case you’re curious, The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars per day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons for optimal health.
Most of these added sugars come from processed packaged foods, so….
Take home message: Focus on whole foods & cook at home!
Anyways, long story short, you should probably make these.
You’ll save $$ & have a gigantic batch of 24 bars to last you all month!
- 1 ½ cups raw almonds, one half whole, one half roughly chopped
- ¾ cup raw walnuts, one half whole, one half roughly chopped
- ¾ cup raw macadamia nuts
- ¾ cup roasted and salted pepitas
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons roasted and salted sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons hemp hearts
- ¾ cup puffed millet
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons seedless raisins
- ½ cup brown rice syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 18x13 inch baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Oil for greasing I used refined coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a bakers half sheet (18 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheewith parchment paper, then lightly grease it with an oil of your choice. Set aside while you assemble the nut mixture.
In a large bowl, mix together the almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, millet, cranberries, and raisins. When evenly mixed, add in the brown rice syrup & vanilla and mix with your hands until well combined. If you don’t want the mixture to stick to your hands, lightly grease them with oil before mixing.
When the mixture is uniform, transfer to your prepped baking sheet & spread evenly, using your hands to press the fruit and nut mixture into an even layer.
Place in the oven & bake for roughly 15 minutes, or until the syrup is just golden. Cooking it longer will impart a caramelized flavor & the bars may become brittle. Experiment with cooking times to see what works best in your oven.
Remove the tray from the oven & let cool on a cooling rack or on top of the stove (to encourage air circulation underneath the pan). When cool to the touch (roughly 30-40 minutes later), transfer the tray to the fridge to cool for another 20 minutes.
Remove the tray from the refrigerator & lift the parchment paper with the fruit & nut bars out of the baking sheet and onto a large cutting board. Use a knife to cut the bars into your desired size and shape, then wrap individually in parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Store in the fridge and enjoy all week!