The perfect holiday snack to nosh on this season, these homemade gingerbread granola bars are full of holiday spice and nourishing ingredients that are sure to satisfy!Thanks to Thrive® Culinary Algae Oil for sponsoring today’s post! And thanks to all of you for supporting the brands that make TFD possible. As always, opinions are my own!
For the 60-second step-by-step tutorial for this recipe, check out the video below!
Happy one week and two day countdown to Christmas!
This time of year can always get a little hectic. Like when you think your holiday shopping is done and then realize you forgot an entire side of a family (yup, that happened). It just feels like there’s so much to do. Shopping, wrapping, decorating, holiday parties, friend gatherings, gift exchanges, family obligations, tying up projects at work, not to mention trying to capture a sliver of that holiday spirit everyone talks about. It’s exhausting.
And when life gets hectic, it’s pretty common that our self-care gets put on the back burner. We skip meals/snacks, we put off movement and we don’t carve out any time for ourselves. I’ll give you an example of how this played out for me last weekend. Steve and I went Christmas shopping on Saturday and had breakfast probably around 9:30am and left for shopping a little before Noon.
Well, I started to get hungry around 2pm but we had one more stop to make to cross everyone off the list (this is before I realized I forgot an entire side of our family LOL) and so I thought I can power through. Well, now it’s 2:30pm and Steve and I were in the mood for ramen because it was snowing and super cold on Saturday and we were craving something warm and comforting. But our favorite ramen place was 20 minutes away from where we were shopping. OK fine, I said. Even though I knew I was quickly fading.We get to our fav ramen shop and guess what, a 45-minute wait! It was as if someone literally sucked all the energy and life out of me. I was barely functioning at this point. The hanger was real. It’s now 3pm – I’ve gone 5.5 hours without eating – which is way longer than I normally let myself go – and it would be more like 6.5 hours by the time we sit down to eat. Luckily, Steve (my hubs), who was functioning like a normal human being, suggested we go next door to CVS so I could get a snack to eat while we waited for a table. As I chomped on my bar, I felt the life and energy coming back into me. You know those Snickers commercials where some famous person turns into a monster because they’re hungry and then they have a bite of a Snickers and return to normal? I’m pretty sure that’s how Steve describes watching my hanger unfold.
I share this story to tell you two things:
- There’s no such thing as a perfect intuitive eater. And there’s no such thing as failing at intuitive eating. Only opportunities to learn. Did I look at that experience over the weekend and propel myself into a shame circle about how I’m the worst intuitive eater and I didn’t listen to my hunger and plan accordingly for self-care? Hell no. I thought okay, how can I learn from this experience? Next time I go shopping and I know I’m going to be out for a while, I need to make sure I pack (or stop for) a snack.
- I have the perfect holiday snack to pack with you when you’re out and about crossing all the things off your to-do list!
Enter homemade gingerbread granola bars!!This was my first time making homemade granola bars and I’m not gonna lie it’s pretty tricky to get them to stick together. My first couple batches tasted great but when I’d pick one up in my hand it would break in two. Still edible and delicious but not blog-worthy to share with ya’ll.
I did some homework (thanks, the Kitchn) and learned a trick or two to make the perfect granola bars that actually stick together! 1 – you want to aim for 3 ½ to 4 cups total dry ingredients and 2 – brown rice syrup and/or nut butter works wonders for getting the ingredients to stick. I used brown rice syrup in this recipe because I didn’t want the nut butter taste to overpower the gingerbread flavor! But I swapped half the brown rice syrup for dates for a dose of natural sweetness and that seemed to do the trick! (Note: I did try making these using all dates and no brown rice syrup and they didn’t stay together).I love that these bars are so satisfying too. They’re chewy but have that satisfying crunch from the almonds and pumpkin seeds. And they’re packed with staying power – plenty of protein and fiber from the nuts, seeds and oats and plenty of good fat from Thrive® Algae Oil!
Now some of you may be thinking what the heck is Thrive® Algae Oil? It is what it sounds like – it’s made from algae. Unlike algae found in the ocean, this algae was originally sourced from the sap of a chestnut tree. Just like coconut and seed oils, they expeller press the algae to release the oil, which contains 90% monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). With 13 grams per serving, Thrive® contains the highest level of MUFAs!
Not only do I love Thrive® for its nutrition benefits, but it’s also pretty amazing in the kitchen too. Its high smoke point (up to 485 degrees) makes a huge difference when you’re frying, searing, sautéing, and roasting. No more burnt food for dinner! J. And it has a delicious light and neutral taste that lets the flavors of whatever you’re cooking or baking shine through. Example A: these gingerbread granola bars. Only delicious holiday ginger flavors comin through! It’s been a great oil to use for roasting veggies, searing salmon, making homemade salad dressings, and baking holiday desserts! You can pick up a bottle at your local Stop & Shop, or find it on Amazon.Whip up these granola bars over the next month while life is holiday hectic so you can avoid making matters worse by being hangry. Throw ‘em in a Ziploc bag in your purse or pack ‘em in your kiddos lunchbox for a special holiday treat. Make a double batch if you’re feeling ambitious and freeze the leftovers until you’re ready to use!
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup almonds, chopped
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup dates, pitted (about 4 Medjool dates)
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- ¼ cup Thrive® Culinary Algae Oil
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt until combined.
- In a food processor, add dates and pulse until dates are in small pieces and stuck together. Add to the oats mixture.
- In a small bowl, add brown rice syrup, molasses and Thrive® Algae Oil and warm in the microwave (about 30 seconds) and whisk to combine.
- Pour brown rice syrup mixture into the oats and stir well to combine, separating the dates as you stir, until ingredients are completely coated and start to stick together in clumps.
- Pour mixture into parchment-lined pan and use wet hands to firmly press mixture into pan.
- Bake bars at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes for chewy granola bars (or 25-30 minutes for crunchier bars).
- Let bars cool completely in the pan. Use parchment paper to help remove bars from the pan and using a sharp knife, cut into 8 pieces.
Optional: For even more flavor, toast oats and almonds at 325 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until toasted and fragrant. If dates are not soft, soak in hot water for 10 minutes to soften before adding them to food processor. I baked my bars at 25 minutes and they were just the right texture to me.
Tell me, have you ever made homemade granola bars? Have you heard of Algae Oil?
For more gingerbread goodness, check out my recipes below!