I’ve recently been faced with a dilemma. We visited family over Easter and after spending much time gushing over my love of all things chocolate with my cousin—like mousse cake, cookies and cupcakes—my aunt declared that I was addicted to it.
Me? Addicted to chocolate? Well maybe. I mean I really, really love the stuff. I have invested a lot of time in perfecting my technique of tempering chocolate and to understand all that chocolate theory (it’s a tough life). But I knew she was serious. She honestly didn’t think I could give the stuff up.
Which I didn’t think would bother me. Who would want to give up the stuff? And as I make my own gourmet chocolate out of healthy ingredients, I actually feel good while I’m eating it and after I’ve eaten it. I’m sure the antioxidants and the high levels of magnesium (great for tired muscles) in the raw cacao and cocoa butter and the antibacterial, antiviral properties of honey aren’t hurting me either.
But I really wanted to prove her wrong. I mean yeah, sure, I WAS eating a lot of my own chocolate. It was Easter after all. I also tend to snack on chocolate as we always have it around the house. It’s just so convenient!
Regardless. I made it my mission to cut back on the chocolate and flex my muscles of self restraint. But…. what would I eat and snack on?
Well, when faced with a dilemma such as this, it pays to go to the tried and true. I visited one of my favourite blogs, My New Roots, and just knew that Sarah B wouldn’t let me down. After all, it was many of her recipes that got me on the healthy eating road to begin with.
My mission was clear: my new snack food had to be convenient, last a little while in the fridge, be super easy to make, contain no chocolate or cacao and—of course—be freaking delicious.
Enter Sarah B’s recipe for tropical chewy granola bars.
It was perfect chewy deliciousness in every bite. Just coming into the Australian winter it also gave me a taste of summer (which we missed out on due to our travelling). And really, how can you go wrong with mango anything?
These muesli bars are what let me cut back on my chocolate eating. And in the end, no I don’t think I was addicted to the stuff. It was too easy to give up once I had a replacement snack. My intake was also fairly small to begin with… at least on a daily scale. I only had a few small pieces most days, but rarely felt the need for more.
It was good to branch out from my usual snack of chocolate and great to start eating it again. But I am glad I’ve broadened my snack horizons.
The recipe for these muesli bars is easily gluten or nut free and easily made vegan, so likely to suit almost everyone.
I hope you make these beautiful muesli bars regardless of whether you’re cutting down on chocolate or not. They are so worth it.
Tropical mango muesli bars
Makes 30, Adapted from My New Roots
2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water to form a gel
2 cups rolled oats (use gluten free if required)
1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped or whole (or other nut of choice, omit if nut free)
100g Medjool dates, roughly chopped
100g dried mango, chopped (or more to taste)
1/4 cup coconut oil, soft or melted
1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
2 ripe bananas
pinch coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 175°C /350°F. In a large tray mix the oats, buckwheat grouts and macadamia nuts and lightly toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool then mix through the chopped dates and mango.
Meanwhile, mix together the coconut oil, honey, bananas, chia gel and vanilla in a food processor or blender.
Mix the liquid in with the dry ingredients and press into a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake about 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely. Cut into roughly 30 pieces and store in the fridge or freezer until all are eaten.
Notes and suggestions: try varying this up with other dried fruit and nut combos for example apricot and almond, coconut, pistachio and pear… your imagination is the limit! Though you will need to keep the mashed banana. If you have any flavour combination suggestions, list them below. This is a perfect snack food for lunch or camping trips—just be aware that they aren’t as solid once they get too warm. They still taste great though. They are also perfect with a cup of herbal tea.