I’ve learned a lot over the past year.  One of the most important lessons, in my opinion, was about respecting our food.  At school my classmates and I cooked with an assortment of meat and dairy products each day, and I was always a bit disturbed by how the instructors were so dismissive of the animals we were eating.  I remember one particular class where the instructor stated “Do not think of this as an animal.  It’s factory raised meat, meant for our consumption.”  I have no idea if this bothered any of my classmates.  I know that the point of culinary school is to cook professionally and that the majority of consumers want meat and dairy, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the fact that animals lose their lives in the process, often in cruel ways.  I was told I’d eventually become desensitized by the experience and in some ways that was true.  But ultimately I became a much more conscious consumer.

I don’t see myself ever giving up meat and dairy completely, but I believe in limiting my intake.  I don’t need milk in my cereal and meat on my dinner plate every day.  There are many other delicious options.  I began making these breakfast bars recently as a healthy, inexpensive alternative to processed store-bought bars.  Not only are they vegan but they’re very filling and keep me energized throughout the day.  I make them on the weekends and then grab one on the go every morning.  The nice thing about this recipe is that the ingredients are flexible so you can change it up a bit each time to prevent boredom.  For example, you can substitute agave nectar or corn syrup in place of the maple syrup, use peanut instead of cashew butter… endless possibilities.  My favorite combination so far is cashew butter, almonds, maple syrup and dried cranberries.

Also, check out my gluten-free version here!


Vegan Granola Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1⅔ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup oat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 ounces dried cranberries
  • 6 ounces unsalted almonds
  • ⅓ cup cashew butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons melted Earth Balance
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x9 brownie pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with either cooking spray or Earth Balance.
  2. Use a food processor to coarsely chop the almonds and cranberries. The bars hold together better when the pieces are smaller.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients except for the cashew butter.
  5. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry along with the cashew butter. Stir well to make sure everything is evenly combined.
  6. Move ingredients into the greased pan. Use plastic wrap to firmly press the mixture down evenly so that it's in the corners and flat on top.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Look for browning around the edges.
  8. After removing from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a cooling rack, then finish cooling in the refrigerator until chilled.
  9. Use a knife or bench scraper to make 9 bars. Wrap individually and chill.
Notes
Adapted from King Arthur Flour.

 

 

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Comments

  1. These look so great! I love that their vegan as well!

  2. yum! these look great! thanks for the recipe!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said in this post. I know I’ll probably always continue to eat dairy (though I do limit meat), and I love treats like this. Plus, I have a few vegans in my life so I’ll have to make these! (KAF usually has very good, reliable recipes, too.)

  4. That’s sad that your school didn’t choose to work with meat that wasn’t just “raised in a factory” because I think part of being a good chef is knowing where the animal came from, what it ate, conditions etc. and should promote free-range wherever possible. I’m sure it was a great school nonetheless but I can see exactly how you felt.

    And I have been looking for a great granola bar recipe – this looks delicious !

    • I think it was more of a cost issue. I adored my Phase I instructor. Toward the beginning when we were learning to break down chickens he said “You don’t get organic chickens until you know how to properly butcher the cheap stuff.” But he often stressed the importance of knowing where our meat comes from and encouraged us to read “The Ominvore’s Dilemma” on numerous occasions. At school we went through a ton of chickens, not just whole chickens but carcasses for stock. I remember hearing that the school spends around $50K per year just on chicken and veal bones. It’s simply not cost effective for a culinary school to use free-range organic products for educational purposes.

      Our training was geared toward the fine-dining industry with the understanding that we’d work with higher quality products once we entered a professional kitchen.

  5. What a great reflective post regarding conscious eating! Thanks for your honest words!

  6. I recently became vegetarian because of the conditions of animals on factory farms. Hardest decision ever but also the most rewarding! These bars look great, can’t wait to try them.

  7. These look delicious! I love granola bars and I usually have one every morning but I never thought to make my own… All the ingredients needed are easy to find kosher so I’m definitely going to try this recipe. Thanks!!

  8. What the Clique says:

    It is exciting that I am seeing more and more foods for vegans. I am vegetarian, by the way, and these look amazing!

    • Thank you! I worked in a vegan restaurant for 10 months and it changed my life. I have yet to completely cut anything out, but I’m so much more mindful about what I eat, how it effects my body, how it effects the planet and how animals are treated. I wish everyone would put a bit more thought into their diets. I’m happy to see vegetarian and vegan lifestyles becoming more mainstream.

  9. Wow, I am so surprised to hear that about your professor. It is a shame to hear that there was a lack of respect for meat b.c obviously that will be passed on to other students if they aren’t as mindful as you are.
    Keep sending out great messages!

  10. These sound delicious and look beautiful. I love all of your pictures!

  11. kimberlycai says:

    First of all, beautiful blog!
    Its refreshing to read a professional chef reflecting on the respectful use of animals and animal products. I am appalled by the way your instructor framed the animals you were using, “meant for our consumption”.

    In medical school we are required to learn anatomy by dissecting cadavers. Naturally we were taught to treat our cadavers with utmost respect and gratitude- we were so grateful for the privilege to learn from another person’s self-less donation to medical education.

    Of course I am not drawing direct parallels between chickens and people, but I don’t understand why your instructor doesn’t teach the same attitude of gratitude and respect for the animals you are learning from.

    The bars look delicious by the way!!

  12. Oh yum!!! I was looking for a vegan granola bars recipe. This looks great… and something easy enough I could even do! :) Thanks for sharing!

  13. YUM! I want to make those.

  14. Yum! These look delicious, love my vegan treats :)

  15. These look fantastic and I am going to make them this week. Since I started tiptoeing towards veganism, I’ve been looking for a yummy breakfast/snack bar that’s both easy and good. Thanks for visiting my blog. It helped me find you and I will be back often. Great website and recipes.

  16. I decided to select a random article from you Blog today. I knew the result would be delicious anyway, but I am especially pleased I landed on this particular one. I truly appreciate your reflection about respecting our food. From the little creature that comes into the world not know what to expect, to the men and women who take care of them (some really do take care of them in some cases), to the artisans like you who transform animal and plant life into a delightful experience for the senses, there is truly much reason for respect. I often think that the fact we do eat meat is not the real problem; the real problem is how we treat the animals we raise for this purpose. There is much choice in this, both from the point of view of the producer and that of the consumer. Thanks for a sweet recipe with a touch of philosophy!

  17. ohshineon says:

    I’m definitely going to make these this weekend. I don’t have Earth Balance butter and I’m not a vegan, but to keep to the recipe I’m thinking about substituting 3 or 4 tablespoons of coconut oil for the butter.

  18. happymissm says:

    Reblogged this on Whole Food Nut and commented:
    Made this for the kids tonight……oh my. Hubby tried to hide it so he could take the rest to work :).

  19. happymissm says:

    Thanks for posting. I made them and they were awesome :).

  20. Your granola treats do look delightful. What is ‘earth balance’? I’ve never heard of it before, and may like to give this bars a try. The prepackaged bars are delicious, but overpriced, so making your own seems like a great way to enjoy these luscious snacks without breaking the bank.

    As far as meat goes, I’m weaning myself more everyday. I’ve seen some videos depicting the horrible abuse imposed on animals throughout their lives, right up to the time of slaughter, which really makes me lose my appetite. I can not imagine how some human beings can be so cruel to any living thing.

  21. OMG just tried these…. AMAZING. thank you so much, they are devine ♥

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