I want to make green granola bars, she said.
Green, as in the color green???, he asked
Yes, she answered. Green.
Dubiously, he asked, how?
Spirulina, of course!, she said with a smile.
Spirulina is a natural algae powder that is quite high in protein and nutrients. Though more of a marketing term, the word superfood could definitely be applied to spirulina. Nutrient-dense, spirulina has great health benefits and is a great supplement to a healthy diet. However, spirulina has a strong and overpowering taste. Fortunately, with spirulina, a little goes a long way and the flavor can easily be masked with fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Add a little to your smoothies or your granola and you’ll likely not even know it’s there, but your body will, and will thank you for it.
I know it was just a few days ago that I shared a recipe for other granola bars, my Hazelnut Buckwheat Granola Bars, but my taste testers (aka family, friends and neighbors) loved the flavor of these so much I had to share them with you right away. I made these granola bars with a few things in mind. I wanted them to be green in color; vegan and gluten-free, so that many can enjoy them; and I also wanted them to actually taste good, and they do.
So why green??? I say, why not green? I guess I get a kick out of green baked goods, like my Sweet Pea Breakfast Muffins. They’re not very common so I like the idea of something seemingly bizarre actually tasting really good—a nice unexpected surprise.
I went through several iterations of these green bars. My first batch turned out more brown than green (photo just above). They were quite tasty, chunky and crumbly granola bars. Since they were so crumbly, besides snacking on them, we also used them as granola cereal. I put a square in a bowl, let it swim in plant milk, then added fruit. Yum!!! At first I thought these bars might be too crumbly, but now I actually really like the texture—part chewy, part crunchy, and part crumbly. A little of everything.
The cereal was really good, but I still had green granola bars on my mind so I tried again. The next time I added more spirulina, but that didn’t work. I got that not-so-appealing flavor I was telling you about earlier. So I went back to my original recipe and made a few changes. I spread the batter thinner—into two pans instead of one, decreased my baking temperature to 325F instead of 350F and baked it for less time (25 minutes instead of 35-40 minutes), and voila, green granola bars!
These Green-ola bars are sweetened with coconut sugar, honey and chocolate chips, and also flavored with coconut oil and almond butter. Not only are they full of flavor, but they’re also quite healthy for you. Besides spirulina, they’re loaded with an array of other powerful plant foods (superfoods) like pumpkin, sesame, flax, sunflower, hemp and chia seeds.
Have you ever taken spirulina? What did you think of the taste? If not, will you try it now? Please let me know in the comments section below!
Superfood Green-ola Bars
Makes 12-24 bars
1½ cups/ 150 grams rolled oats (use gluten free, if preferred)
½ cup/100 grams buckwheat groats
½ cup/25 grams coconut flakes
¾ cups/100 grams pistachios, chopped
¼ cup/50 grams pumpkin seeds
¼ cup/30 grams sesame seeds
¼ cup/35 grams golden flax seeds
¼ cup/35 grams sunflower seeds
¼ cup/30 grams hemp seeds
¼ cup/40 grams chia seeds
¾ cup/100grams golden raisins
¼ cup/40 grams coconut sugar
1 teaspoon spirulina powder
1/3 cup virgin/unrefined coconut oil
1/3 cup almond butter (or other nut butter, if preferred)
1/3 cup honey, (vegans can use maple syrup or agave, if preferred)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (use carob or vegan chocolate chips, if preferred)
Preheat oven to 325F.
Line a baking pan (I used two 8”x8” pans, you can use one 9”x11” if you prefer) in one direction with parchment paper, allowing the paper to go up the opposing sides. Do the same in the opposite direction. This helps to remove the bars from the pan after they’re baked.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (rolled oats-sprulina powder).
In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (coconut oil, almond butter and honey). Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until the dry ingredients are well coated. Add the chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan(s), pressing firmly into the bottom, edges, and corners. You want to make sure the batter molds to the shape of the pan. Use a plastic wrap (cling wrap) as you press so the batter doesn’t stick to your hands.
Bake bars until they’re brown around the edges, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack or in the refrigerator. After about 20 minutes or so. Lift the tops of the parchment paper to remove the bars from pan and allow to cool.
Once they’re cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. You can also cut them cold by chilling them in the refrigerator an extra 30 minutes. These can be stored in the freezer in a plastic bag or an airtight container.