Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Granola Bars

I have a granola bar addiction. There’s something so wonderful about these tiny squares of oats loaded with other goodies that I can never get enough of.

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I think my granola bar obsession peaked in college because granola bars became “special treats.” Let’s face it: groceries in New York can be expensive. As in a box of 5 Kashi bars is literally $7.99 at Duane Reade. Unless I bought granola bars at Trader Joe’s which I find a leeetle bit too sweet sometimes, granola bars became occasional treats I would buy only when they were on sale or when I was home on breaks. And then on breaks I’d go to Target and buy like 10 boxes of granola bars and pack them all in my suitcase and bring them back to school with me. I’m sure if my luggage ever got searched it was a lol to TSA.

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My dream granola bar is chewy, full of big chunks of nuts and lots of textures, and loaded with dried fruit, and a healthy dose of chocolate. Most of the time. Other times I want something a little simpler and more like a not-sweet snack that will keep me going in the afternoon. That’s right folks – sometimes I want things that aren’t too sweet. Gasp. I know. The nice thing about cooking/baking is that if you want these babies sweeter, you can add as much sugar as you like and make ’em to your liking. Making things from scratch is great, isn’t it? Thought so.

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These bars have a nice, deep earthy flavor thanks to the pumpkin + sunflower combo. Grinding up the nuts into a nut butter not only binds the oats together, but gives them a hearty texture and some staying power thanks to all the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats they have to offer.

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I honestly liked these more than I expected to. They’re chewy but hearty. And they have this distinct deep savory-sweet flavor that keeps you wanting to nibble. They’ll grow on you with every bite. Prep time is minimal, and one batch gives you a whole pan / week’s worth of snackies. I suggest you mix up your usual granola bar routine and give these a whirl. Make your days be full of peace, love, and excessive amounts of granola goodness. 🙂

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds [or, if you have it, 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter + 1/2 cup sunflowers]
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup – 3/4 cup brown sugar, depending on desired sweetness
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but recommended)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place 1/2 cup sunflower seeds in a food processor and puree until the seeds reach a smooth nut butter paste. Add canned pumpkin and continue to puree until well mixed.

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3. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Mix well.

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4. Add pumpkin/sunflower seed butter mixture to the oat mixture. Mix until well combined and all oats are moist. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and mix again. The mixture will be thick and cookie-dough like.

5. Line a 9×9 baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well. Pour dough into pan and press down using a spatula or your hands.

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6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and fragrant and edges begin to pull away from the sides slightly. They make seem a little gooey when you take them out of the oven but they will continue to set as they cool.

7. Cool completely and cut into whatever sized bars you want. Store in an airtight container or bag for up to a week.

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