I’m not one to buy a whole lot of premade snacks, but I love checking out what’s on the shelves in the healthier stores and sections of grocery stores. It’s always interesting to see which companies are creating clean products, how “clean” they really are, and what’s available for those dealing with different dietary restrictions or special diets. Plus, let’s face it: nobody is 100% prepared with food at all times.
In navigating my own evolving food sensitivities, most recently with nuts and seeds, I’m noticing it’s nearly impossible to find healthy snack options that are nut- and seed-free, and without grains. And if you’re on something like the autoimmune protocol, which involves eliminating nuts and seeds, you know what I’m talking about.
If you haven’t heard of the autoimmune protocol, it’s similar to the paleo diet, but with a number of additional restrictions designed to reduce inflammation in the gut, which is often the root cause of autoimmune disease. While it doesn’t cure you, many people dealing with autoimmune disease (there are a variety of types, all involving your immune system attacking your own body) have found relief by following this diet. It eliminates foods that, while they may be perfectly fine for most people, can cause further harm to those with an overactive or faulty immune system. More on that here.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to create more strategies that minimize anxiety around food. For those of you with sensitive tummies, allergies and other restrictions, you probably know what I’m talking about: the fear that you’ll go out for the day, or to a party or a dinner, and there will be nothing for you to eat. And that sometimes mean you have to eat things that make you feel pretty crummy.
I’m starting off the new year with a cupboard—and freezer—full of snacks to make sure I always have something to throw in my bag for the road. This might sound like mild paranoia to some of you, but it’s a nice “insurance policy,” even if you don’t need to eat it in the end.
I blitzed up a bunch of ingredients in my food processor last night and pressed them into a pan, and it turned out pretty damn good. Now I have a big container of freezer-friendly “granola” bars at the ready. So I’m sharing it for anyone who wants to be prepared for those curve balls or, really, anyone who likes having healthy, delicious snacks around. (Seriously, who doesn’t want that?)
Aside from being allergen-free (yes, they’re school-friendly!), these bars are incredibly healing for your gut, due to the added collagen powder—never mind that collagen is also amazing for joint health, hair, skin and more. They’re also chock-full of healthy coconut fat, which includes plenty of medium-chain triglycerides. Translation: brain fuel! Read about coconut oil and your brain here. Because these are packed with healthy fats and protein, they will give you energy for many more hours than a honey-soaked oaty granola bar, making for a great breakfast.
These are cut into 12 bars, making them big enough for breakfast, but you could absolutely do little squares and keep them around for a smaller snack. They’ll last in the fridge for a few days, but they also freeze nicely in a container so you can toss on in our bag on the way out the door and eat it anytime that day.
While I went with sour cherries and optional cacao nibs (omit for strict AIP), I would imagine that you could add in any chunks of dried fruit and/or chocolate for some nice flavour variations, or, if you’re good with nuts and seeds, those could be swapped in. Just keep the proportions the same so they don’t fall apart.
Enjoy these no-bake bars on the go or at home, and let me know if you try any variations! I drizzle a little square with tahini this morning (I can still eat that one) and it was divine. Happy New Year xoxo.
Coconut collagen sour cherry "granola" bars
Prep Time 15 mins
Freezing time 1 hr
Course: Dessert, Snack
Keyword: AIP, autoimmune disease, autoimmune paleo, cacao, cherries, chocolate, coconut, collagen, granola bars, gut health, healthy fats, leaky gut, low-allergen, no-bake, nut-free, on-the-go, paleo
½ cup loosely packed dates soaked in warm water and drained if they’re dry
½ cup coconut butter softened
½ cup coconut oil softened
Pinch Himalayan or sea salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup collagen powder
½ cup dried sour cherries
¼ cup cacao nibs omit for strict AIP and/or add more cherries
Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper; brush some coconut oil on the pan so the parchment paper sticks and lay down two pieces, perpendicular to each other. You will likely need to cut it to fit.
In a food processor, pulse together dates, coconut butter, coconut oil and salt until you have a crumbly paste.
Pulse in the shredded coconut and collagen until fully combined, but the shreds are still visible.
Squeeze a bit of the mixture; it should hold together pretty well. If it still feels dry, add a little more coconut oil.
Briefly pulse in the cherries and cacao nibs until just mixed. They should still be in chunks.
Pour the mixture into the pan and press down firmly, using a second square pan or another flat surface, like a small cutting board or glass dish.
Freeze for an hour, until firm. Remove from pan, cut into bars or squares, and store in the fridge. For long-term storage, place in a tightly sealed container in the freezer.