The first time I had heard about Clif Bars was when I was at Costco in the States. I was looking for healthy, organic snacks for the kids and the Clif Bar box was eye-catching. I looked at the ingredients -- nothing too too bad... so I picked up a box of containing Iced Oatmeal Cookie and Chocolate Brownie.
I got home, tasted one and thought, wow, these bars are good, BUT they're so sweet!
It tasted almost like a candy bar, which is too bad because searching for organic nutritious snacks that appeal to kids can be tricky.
Marketed primarily as a healthy energy bar, Clif Bars are made up of oats, sweeteners, chocolate/peanut butter, and natural flavours.
Upon closer inspection of the label on the Clif Bars, there are at least 5 different types of sweetener such as: tapioca syrup, cane sugar, fig paste, chocolate chips, and maple syrup. That's a lot of various forms of sugar.
Not surprised, my eldest ate the Clif Bars, but I knew I wouldn't buy another box, not because they're not a good energy bar -- but just because I knew I wanted to make my own.
The best part is that I get to control not only the type of sugar, but how much sugar goes into my homemade bars.
Also, I can add nutritional extras like seeds or other nuts to my liking.
Make it with almond butter, with or without chocolate, add dried fruit... the combinations are endless.
For these bars, I wanted to make a peanut butter chocolate version -- light sweet, slightly chewy, full of peanut and chocolate flavour, with a surprising crunch from the rice cereal and peanuts inside that keeps you coming back for more.
Using dates as the natural sweetener, coupled with some brown rice syrup for malleability, and chocolate chips for decadence, these are highly addictive.
And you can make them from scratch in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Great as a snack for kids, or an energy boost while hiking, these wholesome vegan bars with all-natural ingredients are sure to keep you going.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bars
Yield: 9 large bars
coconut oil, for greasing
10 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
1 ¼ C crisped rice cereal
1 C rolled oats
¼ C whole peanuts
2 T ground flaxseed
1 T ground cinnamon
¼ C natural peanut butter
pinch of salt
3-4 T brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ C mini semisweet chocolate chips
extra melted chocolate for drizzling (optional)
Prepare a 9" x 9" square glass or metal baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and lightly greasing it with some oil.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place rolled oats and whole peanuts on a clean, dry baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until slightly aromatic. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a food processor, add dates and process until smooth in texture. You may add some water (1 T at a time) to help it puree smoothly. Place pureed dates into a large mixing bowl.
Add the cooled peanuts to the processor and pulse a few times until the peanuts appear coarsely chopped. Add the chopped peanuts to the dates in the bowl.
Next, add oats, flaxseed and cinnamon to the bowl.
In a separate small bowl, combine peanut butter and brown rice syrup. Mix until smooth and add vanilla. Stir well and pour over the oats in the large mixing bowl.
Use a flexible spatula to combine the mixture evenly. Lastly, add the chocolate chips. Combine well and pour into the pan. Use your fingers to press firmly.
Drizzle with melted chocolate if you wish.
Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator to firm up, at least 1 hour.
Remove from the fridge and place onto a cutting board. Use a serrated knife and cut into 9 square bars.
Enjoy or individually wrap and freeze for later.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker