I started eating grain-free after Aria was born in an attempt to get healthy and to lose weight. Since then, we've been eating meats, fruits, vegetables, goat milk (from our goats), homemade yogurt/viili made with our goats' milk, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats (organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, as well as, ghee and organic, pasture fed butter). We've basically simplified the way we're eating and cut out (most) sugars, grains (wheat, corn, etc...) and starches (potatoes, with the exception of sweet potatoes). If you're familiar with the Paleo way of eating, we've essentially been doing that. Although, I would never consider myself a purist when it comes to eating that way as we occasionally eat some processed foods (Have you ever had Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut butter? I don't think I can live without eating it!) and we enjoy eating out once in awhile.
The one thing I've missed the most in all these months isn't, surprisingly, wheat flour, it's baking in general. But since the holidays, I decided to start seeking out new recipes for healthy treats and snacks around here. We plow through the fruits and sometimes... vegetables... but sometimes it's nice to have healthy homemade treats so I'm making it my mission to find a whole slew of new recipes to add to our arsenal of baked goods this year since we no longer make many of the things we used to love.
I got this recipe from my sister, who in turn received it from a friend. And, as with just about every single recipe I get my hands on, I played around with it and tweaked it. I like recipes as guidelines. I love altering them and having fun making them a little different from their original context.
(The original didn't call for toasting the nuts. Raw would essentially reap more health benefits, so if you prefer it that way, just keep them raw.)
Everyone loved these, except one of my boys who likes some nuts but wasn't crazy about the larger pieces of walnuts... I think if I had chopped them even smaller, he would have eaten them just fine.
Toasted Nut Protein Bars
2 T Local, Raw Honey (or Maple Syrup)
1/2 c. Almond Butter
1/2 c. Organic Coconut Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 c. Nuts (Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, etc.}
1/4 c. Flaxseeds
1/2 c. add-ins such as Raisins, Shredded Coconut, Chocolate Chips, Chopped Prunes, Chopped Dates, Pepitas*, etc...
Place the nuts (I used walnuts and pecans here) on a sheet cake pan and bake at 400° for about 15-20 minutes to lightly toast them. They are done when you start to smell that warm, freshly baked nut smell. Once toasted, set aside to cool.
Next, place your flaxseeds and pepitas (if using them) on the pan and bake for about 5 minutes to lightly toast them. Set them aside to cool.
Roughly chop the slightly cooled nuts with a sharp knife. No rocket science here, you just want big pieces but you also want them slightly broken up.
In a large bowl, add the chopped nuts, seeds, and whichever add-ins you choose. (I used raisins and pepitas here.)
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil together with the almond butter and raw honey. Once melted, remove from heat and add in the vanilla and mix well. Pour the almond butter mixture over the nut mixture, mix well, and spread in a 9x13 pan. (I like to use parchment paper to line mine for easy clean-up.)
Refrigerate until firm and store them in the refrigerator.