I love Kind Bars. I hate paying $2.00 a piece for them, though, especially considering the fact that a teenage boy can eat three Kind Bars in one afternoon snack. Also, I’m not too crazy about adding glucose and soy lecithin to my food, if I can get around it. Depending on the bar, you can also find glycerin, cane juice and gum acacia on the ingredients list. Yes, I can pronounce them. No, I don’t want to eat them while pretending that I’m treating my body well. So I make my own. I’m a girl that tries her best, but I have been known to slip and fall face first onto a street vendor hot dog, so I’m not throwing down a gauntlet here…..mostly it’s about the money. I can make fake Kind Bars at home for less than fifty cents each and the ones that I make at home only have the ingredients that I like–win/win.
The recipe for Fakin’ Bakin’ Kind Bars is extremely simple—
2 cups of chopped nuts
1 cup of seeds
2/3 cup of chopped dried fruit (this is negotiable—see Version 3 (The Giant’s Version)
½ cup of honey
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Really. That’s it. The fun and deliciousness happens when you make them your own. Today, I made three different versions of bars (I like to make ahead and they actually keep well for at least a month if you store them carefully). This ratio of ingredients makes 12 bars maybe a smidge bigger than the store bought ones. Note- I’m not a food blogger and I am NOT a photographer. All photos are taken with my slightly greasy iphone.
Version 1– Cherry Ginger Pie Bars (modeled after my favorite cherry pie recipe that has crystallized ginger as an ingredient and is a mouth party. Plus, ginger is great for you, cherries have tons of vitamins and the walnuts–because they are softer and buttery–have a pie crusty texture to them-yay)
Version 2 – Sunshine Bars (the apricots and golden raisins keep me thinking of a great hike in Sonoma. The flavors are both warm and zesty)
Sunflower Seed (I had to use pumpkin today because my kids found them in the pantry between grocery and baking day-bummer)
Version 3 – Giant Bars -My oldest son, The Giant, does not eat dried fruit. Heck, The Giant doesn’t like any fruit, but dried is really not happening. This version proves how versatile the recipe is because, if you have the same number of cups of ingredients, it doesn’t matter what you add AND these are covered in chocolate. Getting The Giant to eat ANY food usually involves covering it in chocolate #greatparenting.
Brown Rice Crispies
CHOCOLATE (I’ve usually got an emergency supply, I just melt up whatever is handy—chocolate bar, chocolate chips, old Easter candy. . . just kidding. There’s no such thing as old candy in this house)
Prep Work –
I use a lot of nuts. I toast them about once a month on a quiet morning and store them in labeled bags. I use toasted nuts for these protein bars, for homemade granola, to make nut butter, and to top oatmeal and salads. When I have bags of toasted nuts around and I know that I have to use them in a month, I tend to find all kinds of good reasons to cook with them. . . topping roasted veggies, ground into a stuffing for pork chops, thrown in some caramel corn on movie night, in cookies. . . o.k. I’ll stop now. For the purposes of a LESS crazy human, though, toast what you’ve got and put the rest in the food processor and make nut butter. You’ll be glad that you did and you’ll save the eight bucks a pound that Whole Foods thinks you should pay to use their food processor.
Simply put, I pour them in a skillet on the stove over medium heat, put on a great album, and turn them a little when they get brown. In case you are wondering, an even mix of Louis Armstrong, Joey Ramone and Spiderbait is the perfect nut toasting playlist.
To chop the nuts into the appropriate size, I put them in ziplock bags and beat the crap out of them with my meat tenderizer. It’s very relaxing. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.
I use this giant salad bowl for just about every great home project that I do. I rise bread in it, make bath bombs in it, make Caesar salad in it and, on Sunday afternoons, I make protein bars in it. To say that I have gotten the $9.99 that I paid for it on clearance 15 years ago back in spades is an understatement.
First, add nuts and seeds
Chop and add fruit –I use a food processor-because I have one AND, I have teenagers that do the dishes. When I didn’t have a food processor, I chopped the fruit by hand and it was exactly the same. Don’t be kitchen shamed into buying one of these bad boys. If you want to read about why I have a food processor, click here. NOTE: The Giant’s version does not have fruit. Instead, I add crispies and oatmeal. Because I’m the world’s best mom, that’s why.
Stir dry(ish) ingredients to blend
Cook up the magic sticky in a saucepan, mix the honey, vanilla and whatever seasonings you feel are necessary. Cook until it comes to a boil and then boil for 30 seconds or so. Nope, not an exact science. I feel like cinnamon is always a good idea. I’ve used ginger, nutmeg, clove and I have friends who swear by turmeric. I haven’t jumped on the turmeric bandwagon yet, because it almost has the word tumor in it and I am sometimes emotionally 13 years old.
Pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Don’t be shy. Sometimes you have to just stick your hands in there. I won’t judge.
Spread on parchment lined baking sheet. If you are making just one batch of bars, you could use a small square pan or even a pie pan. I always thought that they would be interesting cut into little wedges. Parchment is very important. Do not think that cooking spray or aluminum foil will sub. This stuff is the stickiest shit on earth. No joke. This is coming from a girl who makes her own homemade marshmallows. USE PARCHMENT. I use an extra large cookie sheet because it is exactly 12 bars across. This monster is 14.5 inches by 20.5 inches.
You can see that I repeat this step until I have all three varieties on the sheet or you can just stop now. I guess that not everyone needs to feed two monster sized teenagers.
Bake until brown. I have had this take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes depending on the number of batches that I am making. When they really start to smell caramel-y, I pull up on the parchment and take a look see.
Cool until room temperature. Do not cool them in the refrigerator. You want them to be a little warm because it makes them easier to cut.
Cut and wrap. I wrap these in bits of parchment paper and then put them in little plastic bags labeled “Pretzel Bags” that I pick up at the craft store. Because I have a picky eater, I “label” the three different kinds of bars with pretty tape. I have also been known to mark them with a Sharpie–some days I’m cuter than others.
Chocolate Step (for The Giant’s Version and real chocolate lovers) In the top of a double boiler (who the hell are we kidding? The double boiler is really hard to wash. I use a bowl on a pot) melt chocolate and then using a rubber spatula, spread on the bottom of the bars. Allow to cool—I wrap the other bars while the chocolate sets.
Also, because I am compulsive, if there is extra chocolate, I start a search of the kitchen for anything else that I can cover in brown deliciousness. Today, it was peanut butter cookies from the cookie jar.
Enjoy!! Note: I store these in the walk in pantry EXACTLY at eye level—the same way that I store fruit in the refrigerator in the front and everything else in the back. I want my kids to consciously reach PAST them to get something less healthy. Usually, they choose the path of least resistance. And I love paving that path with homemade goodness.
P.S. Yes, I have both a Nut Bag (for making almond milk) and a beeswax sheet (for wrapping homemade sourdough). I get it. I’m a nutter. But I’m retired. What the heck else am I supposed to do all day? Hugs. P