This weekend was the Colorado Open at my sister’s crossfit gym. I have become a peripheral groupie of sorts to the FRCF crowd. I worked out there myself for a couple months before starting to teach. Me and my guttural voice come to all the competitions. I’ve made some brief appearances at their fantastically neon themed parties. I’ve even dated one for a hot second. Basically, love this crowd of people because they all work so tremendously hard, and do so with such humor and grace that I can’t help but to be the third wheel when they’re up to something awesome.
I had been looking for an excuse to make these granola bars for weeks now, and on Thursday morning woke up feeling like crap. The idea of lifting something heavy over my head made me want to go back to bed – hence: spent the morning making granola bars for the Open! Much better life decision. The original recipe is from the blogger, Against All Grain, but was featured in this month’s “Paleo Magazine.” I am a spice lady though, and this had zero fun spices in it. So, the recipe is mostly the same, plus some spices, minus some cashews, and let’s be honest – I added some more chocolate…
I think the best part of these granola bars were the presentation. I spent all Friday morning individually wrapping each bar in a happy, little parchment paper package of joy. Obviously I had really important things to do last week…Slash, I put making Paleo granola bar presents right up there on top of my list of priorities.
The Open was phenomenal and my sister won her division! Yay Weeze!!! I had so much fun watching her and everyone else compete all weekend (I managed to be there for 8 hours on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.) There is something brilliant about crossfit competitions. I love just being in the presence of so many strong people - especially, strong women. I truly think crossfit is one of the most significant facets in today’s fitness community that fosters, embraces, and celebrates strong, beautiful women. There is also something unique at a crossfit competition in that once you finish your workout – it’s not all about you anymore – it’s about helping the person next to you conquer the pain you just did. The overarching vibe is never really singular – it is always about the community. Love that.
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How it’s Done:
- ¾ c dark chocolate
- 2 tbs coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ c honey
- ½ c almond butter
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Big old chunk of fresh ginger, peeled (if you don’t have fresh ginger, rock the powder)
- Several large pinches of sea salt (less if using regular)
- ½ c almonds
- ¾ c pecans
- ¾ macadamia nuts
- 8 dates (soak them in warm water for a bit if they are super hard)
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I toasted mine – adds a little bit more depth)
- Add-ins of choice: What do you like in your granola bars…
- I put in: dried cherries, golden raisins, and cacao nibs (these are the best if you have not discovered them yet!)
What to Do:
Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. You could also probably grease it like you mean it with coconut oil. Melt your chocolate and coconut milk to make a “ganache” – happened to be the favorite word of the weekend and the one that reaffirmed I did in fact go to a New England Prep School…Once melted, spread your ganache (say it with some pretension – it’s more fun that way) evenly across the bottom of the lined/greased dish. Throw ganache-ed dish into the fridge or freeze (wherever you have the most space) to chill while you make everything else.
Place honey, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a saucepan over low heat. Stirring occasionally to get them into one, delicious substance.
While above ingredients are melding, take out your food processor (the best friend of all Paleo bakers.) Put your dates and chopped up fresh ginger in first and give them some good pulses to break them down. I ended up using a piece of ginger about an inch and a half long and half inch wide.
Add your nuts to the ginger-date experience. Pulse until they are in small pieces and the mixture is starting to hint at sticking together.
(While this is all going on, if you would like to toast your coconut: heat up a small pan over med-low heat with a little bit of coconut oil. Throw in your shredded coconut and stir it whenever you think of it – more is more in this scenario otherwise you will probably end up with sad, burnt coconut.)
Add your coconut and pulse yet again.
Take the honey, almond butter, etc medley off the stove and pour/spoon it over the date-nut mixture. Return to the pulsing. Take a sec in between pulses to mix everything around with a spatula in order to make sure the top of the food processor mixture is in cahoots with the bottom.
When everything has started to stick together, add in your extra mix-ins of choice. If you don’t want them slightly pulverized, remove the granola bar base from the food processor and fold in your extras by hand. I rocked slightly pulverized myself.
Remove your now chilled ganache from the fridge/freezer and scoop the granola bar mixture into the dish. Spread it out with a spatula, but it you want a more even top, rip of another piece of parchment paper, lay it over the mixture, and press the bars out with your hands. Finally, sprinkle some sea salt over the top and give the bars one more light press to make sure the salt adheres and doesn’t just sadly fall off when you go to chomp.
Stick the bars back into the fridge/freezer to set for a couple hours.
Cut and package as you see fit. Enjoy!
Source: Against All Grain. (2012) Trail Mix Granola Bars. Paleo Magazine, 2 (1), 61.