This relentless sweet tooth of mine has discovered the thrill of a snack that’s actually pretty healthy! I love Kind bars, but find it hard to fork over the money for them, so of course I had to try to make my own.
I tried lots of different methods, but ultimately (of course) went with the one that had the most steps. It just turned out so much better it was worth the extra time. By tossing my nuts and cereal in boiled syrup and then baking it like caramel corn, the bars glued together perfectly and didn’t have a pool of crunchy sugar on the bottom.
Not that I have anything against a layer of crunchy sugar…but you might.
I used honey and pure organic maple syrup when making these, since both are a little lower on the glycemic index than processed sugar. If you’re watching your sugar intake and want to go lower, you can substitute brown rice syrup for the maple syrup. I’ll be making them with maple sugar soon, but realize that not everyone has easy access to that – so this was my compromise.
Nuts, raisins, and puffed rice are held together with just enough sweet syrup to do the job. That’s it! I think these are perfect for those moments when you are in a rush and have to grab and go; you’ll be amazed by how satisfying and filling they are.
Oh, and in case you make these and think that hiding them in the freezer will keep you from munching uncontrollably, fuhgeddaboudit. They’re delicious frozen. I know this.
This particular recipe is for maple Kinda bars. If you are using a maple flavoring like Mapleine, you may be able to cut the amount of flavoring back to one tablespoon, but I used pure maple extract, which doesn’t seem to be as strong, so it took two tablespoons for a mild maple flavor.
Adjust these any way you like, as long as you keep the basic ratio of four cups of nuts to two cups of cereal. Cashews are very good, as are hazelnuts (if you like them.) I’m not a fan.
- If you don’t love maple, use vanilla instead. A dash of cinnamon is nice, too.
- I have a distrust of parchment, so I butter mine before pressing the mixture into the pan, just for insurance. If you have more faith than I, you can skip that step.
- Press the mixture into the pan firmly. One way is to place a piece of parchment over the top and press with your hand. If you aren’t willing to risk pain, you might want to wait a few minutes for it to cool down.
- Cut when the bars are solid but still slightly warm. This will keep them from crumbling at the edges.
|My Kinda Bars
- 1½ cups chopped almonds
- 1½ cups chopped walnuts
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups chopped unsweetened rice puff cereal (not krispy cereal...puffed.)
- ½ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup (or brown rice syrup)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (more for greasing baking pan)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons pure maple extract (or 1-2 tablespoons maple flavoring like Mapleine.)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Heat oven to 250 F.
- Prepare a large rimmed baking pan or cake pan by greasing with coconut oil. Prepare a 9X13 baking pan by lining with buttered (or you may use coconut oil) parchment.
- In a large bowl, combine the nuts, raisins, and cereal.
- In a medium pan on medium heat, bring the honey, maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt to a boil. Turn down slightly to maintain a gentle boil and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir until the bubbles are gone. Add the flavoring and baking soda and stir briskly.
- Pour hot mixture over nuts and cereal in the bowl and stir until combined.
- Pour into the large greased pan and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Spread baked mixture into parchment-lined pan and press firmly. You may want to cover with a sheet of parchment and press again with your hands.
- Cool until solid but still slightly warm. Lift out, using parchment, and cut into strips.
- Store in an airtight container, layered with waxed paper or parchment. These freeze well, too!
If you know me at all, you know that my mind is already going a million miles an hour, thinking of variations that I would love.
- Peanuts, almonds, and raisins drizzled with dark chocolate.
- Pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts, dates, and pumpkin pie spice (with a handful of oats perhaps?)
- Cashews, almonds, pecans, with a cup of dark chocolate covered raisins stirred into the baked mixture before it’s pressed into the pan.
I’m certain you have some great ideas, and I’d sure love to hear them!