Cherry-Almond Granola Bars

  • From Bon Appetit 2012

    I made these bars around the Winter Solstice holiday of 2012 and they were fabulous!!!!! The first time I made them I didn’t have sunflower seeds, yet I don’t think it affected my final product negatively. Also because the flavor of the flaxseeds was more prominent than I wanted, this second time around I only used 1 tablespoon of flax seeds rather than 2.  I also toasted the coconut a little, used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries, and because I love the crunch of nuts, I added 1/4 cup of pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds).  For some added flavors I added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla to the liquid ingredients, along with 1 teaspoon of crystalized ginger.  These can also be made vegan by replacing honey with agave nectar. To eliminate any confusion regarding my recipe tweaks, I will repeat these changes, highlighting them in bold, as I go into the recipe below……

    homemade granola bars

    Cherry-Almond Granola Bars: 

    2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats

    3/4 cup whole raw almonds

    1/4 cup coconut oil plus more

    3/4 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped dried tart cherries (second time around I used dried cranberries instead)

    3/4 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened finely shredded coconut

    1/2 cup (3 ounces) roasted unsalted shelled sunflower seeds

    2 tablespoons flaxseeds, toasted (second time around I used 1 tablespoon)

    1/4 cup pepitas  (my addition)

    1/2 cup honey (vegan alterations, use agave nectar- maybe even experiment with date or rice syrup)

    1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla (my addition)

    1 teaspoon crystalized ginger (my addition)

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    Coconut oil, unsweetened finely shredded coconut, crystalized ginger, pepitas and flaxseeds can be found at natural foods stores and some supermarkets.

    crystalized ginger coconut oilpepitas

    Preheat oven to 400°. Mix oats and almonds on a large heavy rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until just golden, about 10 minutes. If you want to toast the coconut as I did the second time around, bake almonds and oats for 8 minutes, then add coconut and toast for the remainder 2 minutes or so.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool on sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

    almonds & oats
    Meanwhile, brush a 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal or glass baking dish with coconut oil. Line with parchment paper, allowing it to extend over long sides. Brush paper with coconut oil.

    lined pan brushed with oil
    Brush a large bowl generously with oil. Place oat mixture, cherries, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds in bowl.

    dry ingredients mixed
    Bring 1/4 cup oil, honey, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium heavy deep saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute.


    If adding the crystalized ginger, pulverize in a food processor- I use my mini food processor.

    ginger pulverized ginger

    Then add the ginger and vanilla to the honey/ brown sugar concoction.  Immediately pour over oat mixture in bowl. Using a heatproof spatula, stir until evenly coated. Transfer granola to prepared pan. Lightly press evenly into pan; smooth top. I coated my palms with coconut oil before pressing the mixture into the pan- prevents sticking. 

    pressed into pan

    Bake for 10 minutes. Turn pan; continue baking until golden brown with slightly darker edges, about 15 minutes longer.Transfer pan to a wire rack and let granola cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift granola from pan. Cut into 24 bars. DO AHEAD Bars can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    lifted out of pan with parchment paper homemade granola bars, pre cut cut in squares

    Per my usual request, if you make these: let me know what you think, whether or not you added your own tweaks, what they were if you did, and your outcome…….Enjoy!

Fluffy Gluten Free Waffles

Because this is a gluten free recipe, I must convey that my house is NOT gluten free, and so far I do not intend to make it that way. My motto is “everything in moderation” and until something happens which alters my way of thinking, my life will remain in balance.

But  these days admittedly I have been experimenting with more gluten free recipes than normal after noticing the more I cut gluten out of my diet, my stomach is happier. If only I weren’t so in tuned to my body, I would eat whatever I want, when I want. Waaah, but that’s just not realistic.  Most of the time when I bake or cook gluten free though, I don’t usually tell my family about the alterations.  I mean seriously, do they really care so long as it tastes good?  However, I do make mental notes of their compliments or criticisms, praise or disgust and lately I’ve been realizing that perhaps I should document my mental note: recipes I like or don’t like and why; ingredient tweaks and secrets (at least that I’m willing to relay)…….and so much more regarding edible, plus all those other things might find their way into our bodies one way or another…

… and so I have chosen to do so here- on these pages and posts.

I am sharing this basic waffle recipe, tweaked to be gluten free, because the morning I made them my daughter said, “Wow Mom these are great! Better than the waffles you normally make.” Honestly, the only thing I did was change the flour. I have always worked off the “Basic Waffles” recipe in The Joy of Cooking Cookbook on page 801, and have always altered the recipe by adding, omitting, and experimenting with other ingredients, but this was the first time I used a gluten free flour blend.

Gluten Free Four Blend

(recipe from The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen)

1¼ cups brown or white rice flour

3/4 cup potato starch (do not use potato flour)

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour or garbanzo bean flour

Combine the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and sorghum flour in a large bowl. Mix together with a whisk until thoroughly blended. Transfer flour mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.  This gluten-free flour mix will keep for 4 months in the refrigerator. (I use mine so quickly, I keep it on the countertop.)

Facts about xanthum and guar gums (because they are in ingredients below):

These binding agents lend elasticity to baked goods. Good for gluten-free. But please note, a little goes a long way- use too much and the dish will be gummy, use too little and it will crumble too easily.  This is the concept I have been experimenting with when altering a basic recipe with gluten-free flour.

Now to the waffles.

Basic Waffles

gluten free waffle

Choices on how much butter you use are factored by: 4 tablespoons for a reduced-fat waffle; 8 tablespoons for a classic light and fluffy waffle; or 16 tablespoons for the crunchiest most delicious waffle imaginable.

(Preheat waffle iron)

Whisk together in a large bowl (dry ingredients):

1¾ cups of gluten-free (or all purpose) flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon flax seeds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together in a separate bowl (wet ingredients):

3 large eggs, well beaten

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1½ cups milk


Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently whisk them together with a few strokes.  If you wish, fold in other ingredients at this time. Otherwise, spoon approximately 1/2 cup batter (or the amount recommended by waffle manufacturer) onto the hot waffle iron, making sure its distributed evenly by using a non-meltable utensil. Close the lid and bake until waffle is golden brown. To gage when my waffles are done I use my own discretion, and utilize the “ready” light on my waffle maker as a reminder to check on them. So obviously serve immediately slathered with butter and syrup. Even add some powdered sugar to make a syrupy sugar paste. MMMMMM yummy.

Some final words:

I usually double this recipe and put the leftover in the freezer, making sure to slightly undercook the amount I know will become freezer bound; so when the waffle gets reheated in the toaster or toaster oven, it won’t be overcooked. “Le’ go my Eggo.”

If you try this recipe, I welcome your feedback: to know if you thought these waffles were tasty, if you added your own alterations, or if there’s anything you might change for future quality purposes.

Now I’m off to make some homemade almond milk and gluten-free snicker doodle cookies -with the almond pulp from my milk making…….