“I shoulda packed snacks!” Dylan proclaimed as we were mid-way through the air on a recent flight. We were headed to Portland by way of Denver, and with only a 40 minute layover due to a delayed flight we knew that eating was out of the question when we touched down. We needed to get off that plane, figure out where our next gate was, and hightail it across the airport. The food would have to wait.
Except that it wouldn’t have had to wait had I had planned ahead and made snacks for the plane. A complete rookie move on my part. I mean, I’m the snack queen. For road trips, for flights, for work; heck, I served an entire dinner of finger foods for NYE this year. My typically strong snack game had crumbled.
As I dreamed about snacks through that plane ride I started to think about what sort of snacks would be good for both a plane ride and at home. There are the easy go-to snacks that I talked about in this post, but what could I make to have around the house that would transfer well to being thrown in tote bag and consumed after take-off?
My requirements were pretty easy – no liquids (ya know, TSA rules and stuff), and something healthy because plane rides already leave you feeling all blah and tired without adding heavy plane food onto the pile (Imma save those food comas for the holidays or dinner with friends). And for some reason, in my state of hunger, this non-granola bar eating gal thought that some homemade granola bars would be perfect.
I’d never made granola bars, but in a former life I had a food blog (we’ll get into that story another time), and I L-O-V-E to cook, so I was excited to throw caution to the wind and make these guys from scratch, but without all the extra added refined sugar and such.
I decided to go heavy on the nuts, use a peanut butter, honey and date base to hold them all together, and top them with dark chocolate chips. If you use chocolate, be sure to just a 90% or more chocolate to keep the sugar out.
So really it’s as easy as this. Roughly chop up the nuts you decide to use and toast them. Well, you don’t have to toast them if you don’t want to, but I personally like that slightly toasted taste. Then you’ll need to process the dates to get them down to that sticky, doughy, consistency. Thankfully food processor’s have came down in price A LOT in the last 5 years, and since it’s a commonly used kitchen appliance they’re worth the investment. Here is the one that I use and recommend if you don’t have one already.
Then, you melt the peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and vanilla all together in a saucepan (and feel free to omit the cinnamon and vanilla if you don’t like it), mix it all together, top with the chocolate chips, chill and voila! Delicious, healthy, refined sugar-free and easy homemade granola bars. Perfect for an at home snack or even to pack in your carry on so you have something healthy to eat on the plane.
Sugar Free Granola Bars
Free of refined sugar, these homemade granola bars taste amazing and make the perfect healthy snack idea.
- 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
- 1 1/3 c. almonds roughly chopped
- 2/3 c. walnuts roughly chopped
- 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
- 2 c. dates pitted (Noor or Medjool)
- 1/2 c. honey
- 1/2 c. peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
In a medium skillet toast the almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently so the nuts don’t burn. Add toasted nuts to a medium mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
In a food processor, process the dates until they’re doughy and sticky (the dates will roll in a ball in your food processor), then add the dates to the mixing bowl with the nuts.
In a small saucepan warm the peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring to combine.
Add the peanut butter mixture to the mixing bowl stir all ingredients together.
Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper and press the mixture into the pan until it’s flat and even.
Sprinkle dark chocolate chips on top and press down to secure them into the top. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan, cut the bars an store in an air-tight container for up to one week.