Paleo Strawberry Trail Mix “Granola” Bars

On a recent trip to my second-favorite big box retailer, my toddler asked me for granola bars.  I promised her we could make some ourselves when we got home.  It took us a couple tries to get them right where we wanted them; texture was the biggest issue.  I liked the flavor of this recipe, especially since everyone is running loss leaders on strawberries lately and you can get them for $1.49(!!!!!!!).  But I adapted it according to my own preferences for flavor and texture, and I was really happy with the result.  And the “grolla bars” were a big hit with my toddler too!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 3 cups nuts (I used 1c each cashews, almonds, and pecans)
  • 1 cup dates (I used tunisian, because they are much cheaper.  But medjool are better if you want to upgrade)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey (to taste and texture–if you’re using medjool dates, you may need less)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

Method:

Coarsely chop your strawberries in a food processor.  Remove.  Put your nuts, dates, and raisins in the food processor and pulse until you’ve reached the desired texture.  I personally prefer a finer chop, and I think it holds together better than a chunkier one too.  Put your chopped date/nut mixture in a big bowl with your chopped strawberries.

Evaluate the texture of your mix at this point.  If it’s holding together pretty well, you don’t need as much honey.  If it’s not really sticking together, you’ll probably need the whole 1/4 c.

In a small saucepan, heat your honey, butter, cinnamon, and salt until it’s all melted together and smelling delicious.  Pour over your chopped mixture and mix it all together really well (I used my hands).  Form into bars.

Put in a dehydrator at 135 degrees for 8 hours.  You could also try baking them at 350 for awhile (25 minutes?), until the texture is right; but I can’t vouch for that method, as I haven’t tried it.  But you could also eat them raw–the cooking is just to achieve the desired texture.

Some Thoughts on Health

These are really delicious, but they should be eaten in moderation.  They’re very energy-dense, and dates and honey are both (obviously) high in sugar.  So, while they’re technically paleo, they’re not really the kind of thing you want to make the cornerstone of your diet.  That said, they’d make a great replacement for dessert, or a good snack to enjoy during some sort of athletic activity.

Nuts are kind of a mixed bag when it comes to nutrition.  They’re high in omega-6 fats (the ones that cause inflammation) and also contain phytic acid, an anti-nutrient.  On the other hand, they are a good source of some micronutrients–and they’re undeniably a natural, whole food.  Here’s a great summary of the pros and cons of nuts and seeds, from a paleo perspective.

I really like these, so I am going to indulge every once in awhile.  It’s certainly not the worst treat I could eat!  But as a general rule, I try to make sure I’m eating a lot of salmon or grass-fed ruminant meat in weeks that I eat a lot of nuts to try to keep my omega-3 to omega-6 ratio roughly in balance.

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