Monday, January 30, 2012

Cooking with Trader Joe's - Energy Bars

I love homemade granola bars! I wanted something that could be a quick snack during the day and these chewy little bars seemed like the perfect fit. I used what I had on hand so I ended up swapping some ingredients: dried cranberries instead of raisins, almond butter instead of sunflower seed butter, and sunflower seeds instead of pepitas. I also used half the amount of agave it called for, and it was sweet enough for me.

I found this recipe in a new cookbook I got for my birthday: Cooking with Trader Joe's. This version is all about "skinny" recipes using Trader Joe's products.

All the recipes seem nice and easy and heavy on the veggies. There are lots of recipes using tofu and tempeh. We loved 4 out of the 5 recipes we've made from it so far:

1) Mexican potato hash: this dish gets it's kick from soy chorizo, which I'd never had before but really liked. Potatoes and shredded carrots make up the bulk of the dish, which help make it really filling.

2) Tofurella sticks - yep, exactly like it sounds - these are lightly breaded and pan-fried, dipped in marinara. Just for fun, I made a couple of mozzarella sticks using string cheese as well.

3) Crave-worthy Brussel's Sprouts - delicious, and very simple. Lightly sauteed with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

4) Lentil Pate - this was just so-so for me. It's basically a dip with lentils, olives, capers, lemon juice, and garlic. I really liked it when it was freshly made and still warm, but later on in the week I was reluctant to eat it.

5) These energy bars. A big hit with me, obviously.

Energy Bars
adapted from Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook - Skinny Dish
makes 12 bars

Notes: If you don't have ground flaxseed, you can substitute an equal amount of cornstarch, but only use 2 tablespoons of water instead of 3. You'll just be missing out on some omega-3s. Depending on what nuts and seeds you use, these bars will be about 5-6 WW Points+ each.

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed)
3 tablespoons warm filtered water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1 cup roasted and salted pepitas, or roasted sunflower seeds, or just about any other seeds or crushed nuts
1/4 cup packed raisins or dried cranberries
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter, almond butter, or other seed or nut butter
2-4 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on how sweet you want it
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

Stir together the flaxseed meal the the water in a small bowl and let soak for 10 minutes until it forms a gel.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut (if using), pepitas, and raisins.

In a separate medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the sunflower seed butter, agave, and vanilla for 30 seconds. Stir together until well mixed. Add the banana and mash with a fork to combine. Stir in the gelatinized flax mixture.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Press the mixture firmly into a lightly greased 9x9-inch baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on the counter for 15-20 minutes, then chill in the fridge for about 45 minutes before slicing into 12 pieces.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or individually wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.

Pro-tip: Try crumbling one of these bars over Greek yogurt lightly drizzled with maple syrup for a fabulous dessert!


  1. I made some similar bars the other day, but I love yours more with lots of my favourite ingredients.

  2. Oh, yeah, these look amazing! And you've reminded me that I've overdue for a TJ's run :)

  3. Hey Robyn! Thanks for the SKINNY DISH! recipe experimentation, feedback, and blog post. I'm the book's author and blog at If you ever want to guest blog (or swap guest posts), let me know. Btw, what kind of camera do you have? Gorgeous photos and recipes! :) Be well, XOXO Jen

    1. Hey Jen, thanks for the sweet comment! There are so many more recipes in your cookbook that I want to try! As of January of this year I began shooting with a Canon Rebel T2i, but before that I was just using my trusty Canon PowerShot. I would love to swap guest posts! I'll send you an email :-)

  4. Cool, thanks! My old, but good Canon 20D that I used for my book photos just died and I'm realizing it'll cost more to fix it than to get a new one. I'll write back about the guest post swapping--how fun! - Jen


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