Granola bars save lives as long as you don’t have sweet stuff like chocolate in them. This is especially true when you make them yourself and know exactly what is in them that made them so lovely and healthy. They can be made days ahead of time and package up perfectly when traveling and frolicking. But being that I am a gluten-intolerant vegan, venturing away from home can be a bit difficult at times. Thankfully I am well-prepared and want you to be as well!

My favorite thing about having skipped out on ol’ Manhattan is that winter is absolutely no where in site. The forecast for tomorrow in Los Angeles is 90F. It is perfectly appropriate to take a stroll to the farmer’s market down the street, go on a midday hike up into Runyon Canyon, and even take the ferry to Catalina Island for a day trip. I might never go back.

catalina-island

Yesterday, backpack empty, my roommate and I skated around West Hollywood. We found a farmer’s market and filled our bags with the most beautiful produce. I brought home some colorful baby heirloom tomatoes, raw almonds and hazelnuts, honeycrisp apples, golden beets, and fresh flowers to make my temporary apartment feel more like home. I then got to the baking.

heirloom-tomatoes

Ginger Hazelnut Protein Granola Bars
vegan and gluten-free

5 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup warm water

5 medjool dates
1/2 cup hot water

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup brown rice protein powder
1/4 cup each roasted almonds and hazelnuts, chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 banana, mashed
1/4 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a round or square 8-inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, stir the chia seeds and warm water together and set aside. In another small bowl, soak the dates in warm water so that they are fully submerged.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Drain the water from the soaked dates and coarsely chop them on a cutting board. Combine the chia seed gel, dates, banana, and almond milk in one of the small bowls and incorporate into the dry ingredients. Mix well so that no powder remains at the bottom of the bowl. Press mixture into the prepared baking dish and place in preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp at the edges.

Wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.