Banana nut and seed bars

Gluten free and vegan banan nut and seed bars

Seeds are one of my favorite foods, especially in homemade trail mix with banana chips and almonds. I’ve been meaning to try more recipes involving flax “eggs” and paleo-friendly flours like coconut and almond. While brainstorming recipe ideas this morning, I thought about my experience working on a permaculture farm in Ecuador–which brought back fond memories of the simple yet satisfying oatmeal we would prepare and enjoy following our morning chores. Even more delightful with sliced mini bananas, that bowl of oatmeal was truly something to look forward to–the perfect way to relax and fuel before each workday.

Thinking about bananas brought me back to Panajachel, Guatemala, where I lived for six months last spring. One of my favorite local foods was banana bread, traditionally made sin grasa or without fat–in this case without eggs, oil, or butter. I later learned that vegetable oil was sometimes used (I was often suspicious of this) but was relieved to know the decadent texture wasn’t in fact chicken grease leftover from that day’s almuerzo. I bought banana bread semi-regularly from a 7-year old girl and her 5-year-old sister who would always assure me that their mother had made it and that it was very healthy because it contained no sugar or fat.

With thoughts of trail mix, oatmeal, and banana bread, I decided to create a recipe that incorporates all three. Sunflower seeds and almonds (or in this case almond butter) with ground sesame and flax seeds, combined with bananas, rolled oats, oat bran, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt. To make the recipe a bit more paleo friendly, I cut down on the amount of oats I’d initially planned to use and substituted coconut flour.

High in protein and without added sugar, these bars are perfect for breakfast–or an afternoon snack, pick-me-up, you name it. They’re portable; easy to bring to work or school and great for road trips. The combination of flax seeds and almonds provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids to fuel your brain and help you stay balanced throughout the day.

Banana Nut & Seed Bars

Ingredients

sesame seeds

4 Tbsp almond butter
1 cup raw hulled sesame seeds
2 cups water
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup whole flax seeds

Sunflower Seeds in Bulkbrown flax seeds

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
stevia to taste (optional)
1 pinch sea salt

Method

Preheat oven to 325° F. Begin by grinding sesame seeds with 1/2 cup water in a food processor or high-speed blender. Once the seeds are ground to a paste, add the almond butter, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, stevia (depending on desired amount of sweetness, add between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract or 2 packets stevia crystals) and two of the bananas. Continue to blend, adding more water if necessary. Meanwhile, boil 1 cup water. Once water is boiled, pour into a coffee mug and stir in flax seeds to make the flax “egg”. Set aside.

Remove pitcher from blender or food processor and pour contents into a mixing bowl. Add oats, oat bran and coconut flour, stirring constantly. Add the flax egg and continue to stir until thoroughly mixed. The consistency should be like cake batter, but thicker. Pour into a lightly greased square baking dish and top with thinly sliced banana. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Delicious fresh out of the oven but just as satisfying the second or third day (they will stay fresh up to a week sealed in a ziplock bag or tupperware container) served chilled or warmed in a toaster oven.

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