CRANBERRY NUT ENERGY BARS – Vegan & Gluten-Free

Phil and I are on a three-week refined sugar ban (WHAT?!) to help me break my addiction and hopefully help whittle away at some of this baby weight. Going into the sugar ban, I really thought about some of the pitfalls that might stand in the way of my accomplishing this goal, and an obvious one was the intense junkfood cravings that sugar withdrawal can bring. I knew I would miss my salty snacks. My chocolatey indulgences. But not the lethargy. That’s why I made these energy bars*. Now I can have the joys of the former without the drain of the latter- and without all of the guilt!

If I need to grab some food before I run out the door, these energy bars are handily waiting for me! If a craving is hanging on and won’t let go, yep! They’re there. Though beware- these aren’t exactly low-cal. I’m keeping them around for emergencies only. AKA one bar a day! That’s right.

  1. 2 cups of almonds or mixed nuts (not peanuts)
  2. 1/2 cup of ground flax seed
  3. 1/2 cup of unsweetened flaked coconut
  4. 1/2 cup of whole dates (or 1/3 cup of chopped dates)
  5. 1/2 cup of sugar free dried cranberries
  6. 1/2 cup of almond butter (I made my own)
  7. 1/3 cup of coconut oil
  8. 1/2 cup of sugar free dark chocolate chips/chunks (optional)
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt (optional)

Place first four ingredients into a food processor and pulse until most of the nuts are chopped, then place the mixture along with your dried cranberries into a medium-size bowl. I used a Vitamix blender (which I also used to make my own almond butter) instead of a food processor, but if you’re using a regular blender, chop your dates separately so they don’t clog up your blender at the blade.

In a small sauce-pan on very low heat, mix together the almond butter and coconut oil. Once the mixture reaches a smooth, liquidy consistency, add to the bowl of other ingredients and mix well. If you’re curious about making your own almond butter, check out my Facebook post about it here.

Prepare a 9″x9″ pan by trimming parchment paper to lay across one way and the other of your pan, making sure the paper sticks up on the sides of the pan. Dump your mixture into the pan, pressing down into the bottom and corners. Next, just barely melt your dark chocolate chips very slowly in another small saucepan or double boiler on the stove, and spread evenly over the top of the pan. After spreading, sprinkle coarse sea salt on the top, and place in the refrigerator for one hour until set.

Once set, pull the entire square out of the pan and cut into pieces sized according to your liking. Storage of these bars depends on the temperature of your home, believe it or not. Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, so if your home is above 70 degrees, I recommend storing in the refrigerator so that the bars will keep their shape. But if you like them gooey, by all means, leave them out! But beware- if they’re out in plain sight, you just might be tempted to eat them all!

*recipe adapted from Elena’s Pantry

20 Responses

  1. Ruth says:

    YUM! This looks amazing and I will have to try this recipe! I have been eating Paleo for a while now and this is right up my alley!

  2. I have been hunting for a recipe like this for an age! I am completely in love with coconut oil at the moment and trying to cut down on my refined sugar intake as well so it’s great to see an energy bar like this. I was a big diet coke consumer and then on new year’s day I just decided to stop and I’ve felt so much better since and already managed to drop 4lbs which is a major plus :)

    • Mandi says:

      Awesome! I read once, a few years ago, that even “sugar free” things with fake sugar won’t help you kick your sugar cravings, because your pancreas treats it like sugar and you still continue to crave the real thing. Not sure if that’s true or not, but in any case, diet beverages/food can’t be good for you- so great job, and I hope you can stick with it!

  3. Megan says:

    These look perfect! Can’t wait to try them out! :)

    <3 Megan

  4. YUM-MY! It’ll do great for my uncontrollable cravings :-)

    xx
    The Young Bridget Jones

  5. Larissa says:

    These look amazing!! I am making these stat!

  6. I LOVE making energy bars! Quick and practical. Your recipe looks awesome!

  7. Oh, my. These look SO GOOD. I have to try them.

  8. Emily says:

    I quit sugar 2 months ago and haven’t gone back!! I have lost weight and have so much energy. I definitely recommend it. You should check out Sarah Wilson’s blog http://www.sarahwilson.com.au/ she has amazing sugar free recipes. Just be wary of dried fruit because it tends to have a very high sugar/fructose content (although I guess that doesn’t really matter if you are only cutting out refined sugar).

    All the best with he refined sugar ban!
    Emily

  9. Kacie says:

    Those look delicious and easy. Since I’m expecting my second I can use delicious and easy recipes in my life! Thanks!

    Kacie

  10. I want to make these they look great! What brand of sugar free dark chocolate did you use?

    • Mandi says:

      I love Ghirardelli chocolate chips! My mom gets huge bags at Sam’s Club. The chips are larger than normal chips, though, fyi.

      • ok great! Thanks! I just didn’t want to buy some random sugar free chocolate chips and then have it turn out yucky!

      • Ok I made these and they are wonderful and delcious. Mine fall apart a little bit but that’s fine with me because they are so good! I used Maranatha almond butter. I used reduced sugar craisens and I used Girhadelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips because I couldn’t find the sugar free variety. All other ingredients I kept the same. And if anyone was wondering about the calorie content I added that all up too. I made one batch but put it into a 9×13″ pan and I cut it into 15 squares. Mine contained 252 calories per square. I hope I didn’t screw waaaaay up on that. I don’t trust my math skills but I do trust the calculator however there’s this thing called operator error! hahahaha
        THANK YOU MANDY awesome recipe!

        • Mandi says:

          Wow, look at you! I’m not sure how many squares i cut mine into, so not sure about how many calories mine are. Alsoooo… I am not worried that my chocolate chips aren’t sugar free! Hmmm. Next time I might get some at the health food store, instead of my mom’s pantry, just to make sure. :)

        • Mandi says:

          I made these again yesterday and used a bit more coconut oil, added honey, and ground up the dry contents to a finer consistency. I think they hold together much better this way, and thought I should let you know since I remembered your remark on yours not holding together well. :) I also didn’t use as much chocolate on the top- just enough to barely cover the nutty layer.

  11. Michelle says:

    These look delicious! Bookmarking to try later.

    I did no sugar in September last year for a few weeks while I was preparing for my first yoga championship. Ever since then, I’ve eaten reduced sugar and have gained a better mind/body connection. It is tough to give up refined sugar at first, but worth it! I went through a period where I was compensating by putting bucketloads of honey in everything!

    xx Michelle

  12. lucy says:

    Hi, how long do these tend to keep for? :-)