Almond Date Granola Bars

With the typical morning consisting of me rushing out the door with a coffee in one hand and a protein shake in the other, it is safe to say that my assumption that graduating nursing school would tame my life.  Between working 12 hour shifts, half marathon training, getting back into the world of blogging, and maintaining the social life of a 21 year old, life has remained busy and I am not complaining.  I have always said that I like having a long list of t0-do’s; it seems to make life more exciting (and certainly less boring!) A little good stress has never hurt anyone.  I love my quick and easy protein shakes, especially when the weather is warm, but with the fall season quickly approaching I am already starting to think about what cold weather, portable breakfast will accompany my coffee.

My friend, and fellow blogista, Maggie has recently gotten me hooked on Juice Plus+ Complete.  I love the vanilla and always add a generous scoop my my morning shake, this whole food based beverage mix is a great way to get my protein boost each morning.  When I decided to experiment with a new breakfast option, I knew I had to include my current breakfast staple in the recipe.

Move over protein shake, there is a new breakfast in town!  These granola bars are definitely a breakfast option.  Using blackstrap molasses, the byproduct of refining sugar adds tons of nutritional value to these granola bars.  Blackstrap molasses are loaded with tons of minerals and vitamins (maganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and B6, just to name a few!)  It is hands-down, one of the healthiest options when trying to add a touch of sweetness to a recipe.  If you don’t have almonds or dates on hand, try using any other dried fruit and nut combination.  These bars are a nutritious start to the morning or perfect for a pre or post workout snack (because of the added protein from the Juice Plus+ Complete.)  They may even be able to cure that late night sweet tooth.  Safe to say, these almond, date granola bars with be accompanying my coffee tomorrow morning!

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of quick oats
  • 1/4 cup of sliced, raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup of chopped and pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup of natural almond butter
  • 1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 2 servings of vanilla protein powder (I used Juice Plus+)
  • 3/4 cup of almond milk, divided
  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy

Directions

  • Place the oats and almonds on a cookie sheet and place in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, until slightly toasted
  • Place the almond butter, vanilla, and molasses a medium saucepan over medium-low heat while constantly stirring
  • The almond butter should begin to soften and combine with the molasses
  • Add 1/2 cup of almond milk in 1/4 cup increments until the almond butter and molasses makes a thick glaze
  • Stir the dates into the almond butter and molasses mixture
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the protein powder with the oats and almonds
  • Pour the almond butter and molasses over the oat mixture and stir together, if it appears too dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup of almond milk.  The granola bar "dough" should be soft and well incorporated together.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper and pour the"dough" onto the cookie sheet
  • Using your hands, firmly press the "dough" until it is compact
  • Place in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until the ends begin to slightly brown up
  • Let cool for 30 minutes and cut into bars
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nutrition:

  • Calories:  115
  • Carbohydrates:  16 grams
  • Fats:  5 grams
  • Protein:  4 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Calcium:  14 grams

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