A healthier version of the classic, these Granola Bars are Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Dairy Free. They’re incredibly easy to make and require no baking. Just mix, chill, cut, and enjoy!
These Nut Free Granola Bars were made as a request by my oldest friend, Chie. (P.s. I LOVE requests – leave a comment or send me an e-mail if there’s a recipe that you want transformed to meet your specific dietary needs!)
Chie and I met the month before the start of high school in a speed reading class. I can’t help but smile when I remember how we were partners and had to hold up pieces of paper with rectangles cut out in front of our eyes so that the other one could observe how much the eyes move back and forth when reading.
Anyway, flash forward more than 25 years, and she is still one of my nearest and dearest even if she lives on the other side of the globe in Japan and we haven’t seen each other in more than a decade. We’ve been busy working, getting married, having kids – sometimes our lives weren’t in tandem on those things, and we drifted apart for some periods of time, but ever since I had my own kid, we have connected deeply over being moms and our friendship is deeper than ever.
Chie’s daughters don’t do well with nuts, and Chie was craving a granola bar, so finally, after many, many batches of crumbly granola bars (see my recipe for Nut Free Granola Cereal for more details), I am so happy to have conquered the challenge of the Nut Free Granola Bar. I can imagine Chie happily chewing with her girls in Tokyo while I’m sleeping a hemisphere away.
These Nut Free Granola Bars are so much healthier than the ones that I grew up eating. I have to give a lot of props to the granola bar industry for selling the idea that granola bars are healthy. When I started developing this recipe, I understood how much gooey sugary substance is needed to hold all those granola bars together.
I tried so many different versions of these Nut Free Granola Bars. I tried baking them, I tried them with eggs, with just egg whites, with flax seeds, with stevia, without stevia, with maple syrup, with brown rice syrup… And this recipe is the perfect product of all of that trial and error.
What I learned is that maple syrup, while delicious and yummy, doesn’t hold the granola bars together well enough. Brown rice syrup, with all of its unctuousness, does. I also learned that I don’t like baked granola bars, because baking makes the brown rice cereal soft, and I really like the airy crunch of the brown rice cereal.
I also learned that raw oats give me (and many other people) heartburn. Luckily, there’s an easy solution which is to toast the oats in the oven before using them.
I love these bars as a healthy snack or a quick breakfast or for anytime you need a little pick-me-up during the day. They’re Nut Free, so they’re perfect to include in school lunches.
And the nutrition? A+. These Nut Free Granola Bars have a perfect balance of whole grain carbs and vegan proteins. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are my new heroes – they are so good for you! They’re full of healthy fats and fiber and all kinds of vitamins and minerals like Potassium and Manganese, and they have antioxidants, too. I also love them, because they pack a ton of nutrition into a rather affordable package. And for folks following a Low FODMAP diet, seeds tend to be a bit gentler on the GI tract than nuts.
Thank you, Chie, for challenging me to make this recipe. I rediscovered my love for granola bars AND granola, and I also found a new love for sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
I hope that wherever you are in the world that these Nut Free Granola Bars fill your tummy and heart with as much yumminess and happiness as they do mine.
Why You’ll LOVE this Recipe:
- Nut Free
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
- One bowl recipe
- No cooking required
- Easy and quick to make
Ingredients for Nut Free Granola Bars:
- old-fashioned rolled oats
- brown rice cereal
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
- kosher salt
- coconut oil
- sunflower seed butter
- brown rice syrup
- vanilla extract
Notes on Ingredients:
Old-fashioned rolled oats – Make sure that you buy oats that are labeled Gluten Free. There can be a lot of cross-contamination between wheat fields and oat fields, so if you are sensitive to gluten, then definitely check to make sure that the oats are Gluten Free.
Brown rice cereal – Make sure that it has no added sugars.
Brown rice syrup – To get the bars to hold together and not crumble when they’re cut, I needed a natural sweetener that is gooier than my usual go-to maple syrup. Brown rice syrup fits the bill perfectly. The bars cut clean and don’t crumble at all with the addition of brown rice syrup.
Very Important Tip for Making Nut Free Granola Bars
Toast the oats.
In the process of developing the recipes for granola, I discovered that raw oats give me mad heartburn. It turns out that is the case for many people. However, toasting the raw oats before eating them prevents the heartburn. Added bonus – toasting the oats also gives them a fuller, nuttier flavor.
I recommend toasting the oats before using them in this recipe. I usually just go ahead and toast the entire bag of oats at once. Just put them on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 350 F for about 5-10 minutes. Put the timer on for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to move the oats around. If they’re smelling nutty and starting to turn golden, then take them out. If they’re still quite pale and not smelling wonderfully nutty, then keep them in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Let the oats cool completely before using them in this recipe. Toasted oats can also be cooked on the stove like regular oats.
Nut Free Granola Bars – Gluten Free Vegan
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, toasted
- 1 cup brown rice cereal
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds, raw and unsalted
- ½ cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted, shelled
- ½ cup raisins
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup sunflower seed butter
- ½ cup brown rice syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast the oats for 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using in the recipe.
- In a large bowl, combine the toasted oats, brown rice cereal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a microwaveable bowl, combine the coconut oil, sunflower seed butter, and maple syrup. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until completely combined.
- Line an 8 x 8 glass dish with enough parchment paper so that the parchment paper hangs over the sides.
- Pour the granola mixture into the prepared glass dish. Spread the mixture out to fill the entire dish. Use another piece of parchment paper to place on top of the granola mixture, and use your hands to press into the parchment paper to make the granola mixture compacted and flat.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Lift the granola bars out of the pan by holding the edges of the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut into 10 bars.
- Granola Bars will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator.
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