I was issued a challenge by a friend of mine during the spring of this year. She wanted me to make healthy snack bars that could be made for much cheaper than the Sweet Seeds bars that she tasted in Canada. I accepted the challenge, though it would be a little while before I could attempt to make them. So I asked her what ingredients were in the Sweet Seeds bars to better get an idea of what I was looking at since I don’t have access to them here in the States. The ingredients are organic brown rice syrup, roasted sesame seeds, organic evaporated cane juice, dark toasted corn germ, inulin and whole flax seeds.
As far as the ingredients went, I could work with flax seeds, sesame seeds, and evaporated cane juice (which is really pure cane sugar). Okay. I would not use the inulin (there’s a health warning against consuming too much of that), brown rice syrup, and corn germs. The corn germs don’t go well with my tummy, and rice hasn’t been too friendly with it either since I cut it from my diet. I eat both items very sparingly, usually when the Hubster and I visit with family or friends. Besides, my job was to create something delicious without replicating the snack bars completely, to come up with something of my own.
I decided to use sesame seeds, flax seeds, local honey (instead of evaporated cane juice), and muscadine syrup. Muscadine syrup was derived from cooking down 100% muscadine (grape) juice with no added sugar or other juices. If you don’t have access to it like I did, double up on the local, raw honey. Or play with a combination if backstrap molasses, maple syrup, or other organic fruit syrups. If you want to add nuts, I suggest cutting back the sesame seeds to 1/2 cup and coarsely milling 1/4 cup of nuts of your choice in a food processor so that the mixture bakes more evenly with the nut crumbles added.
Now, aside from the ingredients, the goal was to make something delicious and sturdy, a snack bar that could hold up against being transported. Believe me, I put a few things together that failed over the course of the summer. Some were way too brittle. Some were too hard. But eventually, I ended up with a winning recipe using only four ingredients. That’s right! Just four (4) ingredients!
First, I started off by toasting some white sesame and brown flax seeds in a non-stick pan over medium heat. I toasted them until I started to smell them. Almost toasted too long as seeds started popping everywhere (almost like popcorn), and quickly removed them from the heat!
Then, I grabbed the muscadine juice, which was about 12 fluid oz. total. Put it in a pan, and turned it to high heat. As soon as it started to boil, I brought it down to a simmer, and stirred frequently. It took about a half an hour to reduce it down to sweet, syrupy goodness.
As I said earlier, if you don’t have muscadine syrup, you can double up on the amount of honey this recipe calls for. Or you can substitute this with another no-sugar added syrup made from organic fruit juice, backstrap molasses, or maple syrup. I bet strawberry syrup would be delightful in these bars.
Then I used a fork to mix all of my ingredients together: Toasted flax and sesame seeds, honey, and muscadine syrup. The toasted seeds were still warm, and this helped to loosen up the honey and muscadine syrup so that everything blended together well.
Then, I lined my 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper. I used a paper towel, dabbed some coconut oil on it, and smeared it all over the parchment paper. As I anticipated that the bars would be sticky and difficult to remove on the baking pan’s surface, I wanted to make sure that the parchment paper would be an easier surface to work with. The coconut oil worked like a charm as the bars came off easily when they were finished!
I put the mixture onto the baking pan. I covered it with another piece of parchment paper, and used the outside of another baking pan to smoosh down the mixture so that it was much more even. As you can see from the picture above, the mixture didn’t quite take up the whole sheet, but I don’t mind the raw edges. I would suggest doubling up on the recipe below.
Finally, I placed the delicious goodness in a 325° F oven, and baked for 17-minutes. (These should cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the seeds and honey are starting to brown and caramelize.)
When they were done, I pulled them out. I noticed that the mixture had flattened down even further from the oven heat, which was alright with me. Removed the parchment paper from the pan and placed the final product on my granite counter to cool. I waited about 10 minutes for everything to harden from cooling down. Then I used a sharp knife to cut out the bars. I got about 20 thin bars from this mixture.
Because of the toasted sesame and flax seeds, the flavor was a little more savory than sweet, which I didn’t mind! They reminded me a little of the sesame candy I used to eat as a child. I ate these bars by themselves. I even topped one with sunflower butter and banana and had an open-faced faux PB and Banana sandwich! SO SO GOOD.
These bars keep best in the fridge, and the cold temps help to harden them up even more. I wouldn’t keep these for longer than two weeks – if your batch even makes it that long!
Don’t worry, though. I also made a sweet version of these bars that are thicker. Stay tuned for that recipe!
- 3/4 cup Sesame Seeds (white or black)
- 1/2 cup Brown or Golden Flaxseeds
- 1/8 cup local Honey
- 1/8 cup Muscadine Syrup (or any other fruit syrup that has no added sugar)
- Coconut oil
- In a non-stick pan, toast your seeds over medium heat until aromatic. You'll know you've toasted them too long when the seeds start popping and flying everywhere!
- In a glass bowl, mix together your seeds, honey, and muscadine syrup.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Use a paper towel to smear a small amount of coconut oil over the paper to ensure your finished product won't stick.
- Put your mixture on the parchment paper, and spread out as evenly as possible. (I lined the top of it with parchment paper and pressed down on that with another baking pan to flatten it out. Then threw the extra parchment paper away.)
- Cook in the oven at 325°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden. Don't over-cook or you'll have burned seeds!
- Pull from oven, remove parchment paper from pan, and let sit for 10 minutes (or longer) so that the mixture can harden.
- Use a sharp knife to cut into bar size.
- Serve by themselves, or with sunflower butter and bananas. Om nom nom!
- These bars store in a refrigerator for up to two weeks--if they last that long.
© Julie Marie Pierpont and Death Defying Diet 2013-Present