I saw a hummingbird this morning. The hummingbirds are back which of course made me think of Bird Bars. Let me explain. A few years ago, I tasted a KIND Almond & Apricot bar and was transported. It was everything I wanted in a snack: lightly sweet, chewy fruit and nutty crunch. It tasted exactly like the almonds, apricots, honey and coconut in its grand total of only 8 ingredients. My first thought was, “I can make this”! And I was off on my next recipe quest.
I didn’t set out to make something healthy, but as I scoured the internet for bar-type recipes, I started to see that the energy/healthy bar path was the one I needed to take. The final recipe is a combination of two recipes I found on the internet. I set out to replicate the flavor and not only did I, but in a healthy, organic, and whole grain way. Wow, check me out!
My friend Amy exclaimed, “ooohh, they look like bird bars“! I can only assume she meant something like the bird seed cakes intended to feed well, um… birds. I don’t think they look like that, but the name stuck and the rest is history. I’ve used apricot preserves (to enhance the apricot flavor), organic crispy brown rice cereal and organic brown rice syrup, but plain old crispy rice cereal and honey can actually be substituted. Both the syrup and cereal can be found in most supermarkets in sections wherever organic and/or gluten free items are sold. If not there, a health food store or co-op is sure to have them. Since I’m all about the quest, it was fun for me to check out the nearest health food store (Natural Health in Blackwood, NJ) in my new home state. In case you’re wondering, brown rice syrup tastes like a sweet, mild and much lighter version of molasses. Hmmmm, not bad. Ok, that’s enough now will someone please pass the butter?…
Feel free to substitute other types of nuts, dried fruit, seeds or whatever!
Makes 12-14 bars (based on using a 9×13 inch baking pan).
- 1 cup coconut flakes or chips
- 2 cups almonds, rough chopped
- 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups crispy brown rice cereal
- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- pinch of fine grain sea salt or whatever salt you have on hand
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking pan with cooking spray. If you like thick bars, use an 8×8 inch pan; for thinner bars, use a 9×13 inch pan.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the almonds and coconut for about 5-7 minutes , or until the coconut is golden. Give them a good turn with a spatula about half way through baking. Mix the toasted nuts, coconut, cereal and apricots in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine the rice syrup, apricot preserves and pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until it comes to a boil, about 4 minutes. Let cool slightly and pour over the mixture in the bowl. Stir until it is evenly incorporated.
Sread into the prepared pan with a spatula and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before cutting into bars. Wrap individually in wax or plastic wrap for easier handling and transport!
Note: this mixture is meant to be on the softer, sticky side not dry and crispy. After cutting and wrapping the bars, I usually store them in the fridge. Try coating in ground nuts or sesame seeds for less sticky fingers.