Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars {homemade KIND Bars}

Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars {homemade KIND Bars} - afarmgirlsdabbles.com #energybars #kindbars #nuts #driedfruit @farmgirlsdabble

Since I’ve been traveling more the past few years, spending more time in airports (sometimes quite a bit more time than ever originally planned, ugh), I’ve come to rely on a few grab-and-go items that give me the energy I need without leaving me feeling bogged down. Every single time I fly, you’ll find me with a little bag from home of mixed nuts, mostly lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, with a bit of chocolate (in the form of either chocolate chips or mini M&M’s) and sometimes some dried fruit. It’s my go-to baggie of energy, one that I rely on if the lines are long and I don’t have time to grab anything in the airport.

But if things are going smoothly – or not so smoothly with an extended layover – I either take the time to grab a small meal, a cup of yogurt with fruit and granola, or a KIND Bar. Have you tried those magical nut-filled bars yet? I’m not much for buying granola bars, but I LOVE these homemade chocolate chip granola bars. And I’m not much for candy bars any more, thankfully. I think I ate my life’s ration in junior high and high school. But KIND Bars. They are a weakness for me. I just had to try my hand at them in our own kitchen. These Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars, basically homemade KIND Bars, were awesome to have around last week!

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Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars {homemade KIND Bars} - afarmgirlsdabbles.com #energybars #kindbars #nuts #driedfruit @farmgirlsdabble

KIND Bars have obviously been a hit as there are currently 22 different varieties, wow! You won’t find that my mixture of nuts and fruits exactly replicates any of those from the store, as I made my own bar of favorites.

Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars {homemade KIND Bars} - afarmgirlsdabbles.com #energybars #kindbars #nuts #driedfruit @farmgirlsdabbleYou’ll find my three favorite nuts in these bars – dry roasted peanuts (I eat them every day, just like my Grandpa Renelt used to do), cashews, and dry roasted almonds. And my go-to dried fruits, cherries and wild blueberries. I prefer the wild blueberries over the regular dried blueberries, as they are chewier and more intensely flavored. You’ll also find a bit of dark chocolate in there. Because, duh, every day deserves a nibble of that stuff. Dark chocolate always knows the kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes it celebrates with me and sometimes it’s there merely for support, to lift me up and cheer me on. Whatever the day, I need some!

Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars {homemade KIND Bars} - afarmgirlsdabbles.com #energybars #kindbars #nuts #driedfruit @farmgirlsdabble

Before finalizing this nuts and fruits energy bar, I went through a few different versions, testing out other methods I had found online and beyond. Some had me cooking a sticky syrup on the stovetop with a candy thermometer. Others used ratios of fruits and nuts, plus sweeteners, that just did not work. This recipe that I finally settled on is a rework of a recipe that I found on Leite’s Culinaria, a site that I’ve grown to trust. The recipe originally comes from an energy bar cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury – I now think I need to check out this cookbook in its entirety!

If you’re looking for an exact KIND Bar replica, I will admit that this recipe is not quite that. But these homemade KIND Bars are dang close for the home cook. I used brown rice syrup for the first time, an ingredient I’ve been curious about for quite awhile, and liked it alot. I’ll definitely be exploring more with that. The rest of the bar’s goodness is self explanatory, filled with salty nutty crunchiness, little pops of crisp rice cereal, and just the right amount of chewy dried fruit and necessary dark chocolate.

Nuts and Fruits Energy Bars {Homemade Kind Bars}

Yield: 10 bars

Cook Time:20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 c. roughly chopped dry roasted almonds
  • 1/2 c. roughly chopped cashews
  • 1/3 c. crispy rice cereal
  • 1/4 c. chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 c. dried wild blueberries (I love the ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 c. brown rice syrup (look for it in the organic section of your grocery store)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 oz. chopped (about 1/4″ size) good quality bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate bar)

Directions:

* Just a note before you start. Don’t skip the rough chop of the nuts or the chop of the dried cherries. Chopping is necessary for getting the right consistency so the bars stay together. Just a rough chop will do – don’t get the pieces too fine. And if you are not using the two kinds of dry roasted nuts, as I have specified, you’ll probably want to add some salt to the mix. 

Preheat oven to 325°. Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together peanuts, almonds, cashews, rice cereal, cherries, and wild blueberries. Drizzle brown rice syrup over the mixture and then fold to thoroughly combine. Add vanilla and cinnamon and fold again. Add chopped chocolate and fold again. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press the mixture evenly and very firmly into the pan. The mixture should be as flattened and firmly packed as you can manage. The mixture will be sticky. It helps to use a piece of wax paper to press it into the pan, or place some butter on your fingertips for better maneuverability. Place pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until slightly browned at the edges and just a bit soft in the center. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes before transferring the bars in the parchment paper lining to a cutting board. Cut into 10 bars. The brown rice syrup will be a bit soft yet, but will become more solid as it cools completely. Store at room temperature for up to 4 or 5 days, with each bar individually wrapped in parchment paper. Freeze any bars that won’t be eaten within 5 days, wrapped in parchment paper and stored in a plastic freezer bag.

Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria, originally from Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury.

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