Summer Snack Attack: Sweet Oat Crunchies
Travel, hiking, swimming, boating: summer lends itself to constant motion. Try these versatile snack bars for a delicious, nutritious on-the-go energy boost!
What You Need
- 3 graham crackers (about 3″ x 6″ each)
- 1/3 cup raw or roasted/ unsalted sunflower seeds (or raw cashews, peanuts, walnuts, almonds)
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (start with 1/2 cup, then taste and adjust right before baking)
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup, agave nectar, or light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup walnut, almond, or light olive oil
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk or fruit juice (vanilla almond milk works well)
- 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots); or
- 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips; or
- 1/3 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Line an 11″ x 13″ baking sheet with parchment paper (HIGHLY recommended!) or spray/ oil the pan very well.
With a blender or food processor, grind graham crackers and sunflower seeds into crumbs. You can do them together, if you want.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another. Combine wet and dry ingredients, and mix well until there are no dry spots. This may take a minute. Resist the urge to add more liquid: it just takes a bit of stirring! The mix should be just moistened, and pretty sticky.
Stir in one or more of the optional ingredients if desired, and mix until everything is well combined.
Taste to see if more sugar is needed; it depends on how sweet your non-dairy milk or juice is — so sometimes it needs that last 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and sometimes not. Also adjust salt to taste as needed.
Pour the mix into the pan and spread it evenly. Oil your hands lightly; using the heels of your hands, go around the whole area of the batter pressing it down firmly, until you have a solid, firm, rectangle of batter with no clumps or loose bits. Bake for 30 minutes; when it’s done, the edges will be lightly browned.
OK, this next part is important: as SOON as it’s done, slice or crumble it! I slice it into squares, with a pizza-slicer — go slowly: at this point it’s still pretty soft. If you want more of a snack-mix, you can crumble it up by using a spatula or spoon to stir it up, right after it comes out of the oven; it’s good this way in GORP, or anywhere you’d use granola. Also, if you’re not using parchment paper, go ahead and remove it from the pan (whether sliced or crumbled). This mixture gets very crunchy as it cools: if you leave it in an unlined pan during that time, it is HARD to get out!
Be sure to read package labels (especially for graham crackers and chocolate chips) to avoid unwanted hidden animal ingredients. Store bars or snack mix in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.
Use bars or snack mix for quick energy on the go; especially good for travel, and for energy-intensive activities like hiking or cycling. Eating vegan while traveling doesn’t have to be difficult, and fast food doesn’t have to be junk food — wherever you find yourself this summer, tuck these bars in your snack bag or carry-on luggage for quick and tasty sustenance!
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Rachel Tayse.