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Dark chocolate and dried cherries granola bar (nut free)

I’ve been searching for a good granola bar forever, with no luck. I had several criteria, which eliminated many store bought options: nut free so that I can pack it for school lunches, packed with wholesome ingredients (seeds, coconut oil, natural sweetener) and, most importantly, delicious, full of flavor and not boring. I think I hit a home run with this creation as the dark chocolate chunks and juicy dried cherries make a very nice combo and hints of lemon zest elevate the granola bar from mediocre to fabulous. Sweetened with honey, the texture is in between crunchy and chewy. The bar melts in your mouth and I dare you to eat just one piece! The best part is that the recipe only takes a few minutes to throw together from staples that I always keep in my pantry. Thoughtful stocking of your kitchen is key to clean baking but I assure you, it’s worth it.

Hint #1: I like to use rice syrup for my granola bar because it helps to bind it together. I find that using only honey makes for very crumbly granola that easily falls apart. Also, pressing the mixture into the baking dish with a flat spatula before baking helps set it. Finally, THIS IS KEY: once baked, putting the pan in the fridge to cool for about two hours ensures that you can later cut the granola into nice squares.

Hint #2: Once you make it and like it, double the recipe and make a bigger batch for your freezer.

What’s so great about it?

I’ve included superfoods like sunflower, pumpkins and sesame seeds to provide protein and a boost of vitamins and minerals. Sweetened by raw honey and rice syrup, the granola bar doesn’t have any refined sugar or HFCS like many bars on the market. Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat with antiviral properties and is a good replacement for butter or highly refined vegetable oils. Most importantly, making your own treats allows you to control the quality of your ingredients which is the premise of clean eating. Enjoy!

Dark chocolate and dried cherries granola bar (nut free)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Course: Dessert, Desserts, Snack
Servings: 8 people
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 tbs sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbs pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbs shredded coconut unsweetend
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs raw honey
  • 2 tbs rice syrup
  • 3 tbs coconut oil room temperature
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix oats, sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds, coconut, cinnamon and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, mix honey, rice syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice and vanilla until combined. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry by hand, until everything is thoroughly moistened. Add chocolate chips and cherries and give it a good stir. Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture into the pan to create a smooth surface (helps set it). Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Cool and put the dish in the fridge for about 2 hours before cutting. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

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