I written it before, and I’ll write it again. I used to luuuuurrrvee muesli bars and flapjacks. Sticky dried fruit honey concoctions were my seemingly guilt free way of getting my sugar fix everyday for approximately, I dunno, at least 15 years of my life.
When I was travelling, when I was busy with work and when I wanted to grab something on the go, it was my default snack of choice. There’s no doubt about it, they are quick, handy and to be fair there are some better ones out there these days that at least try to use just all fruit e.g. Nakd bars. Yes, they’re better than anything with refined sugar, but they’re not great everyday for keeping control over your sweet cravings or reducing your overall sensitivity to sweet.
A much healthier alternative
I like this recipe because it’s a sugar-free alternative to the dried fruit bomb of a glucose syrup infused shop bought muesli bar and you can make a big batch and store in the fridge or freezer ready for a ‘grab n go’ type breakfast. The cardamon does a mighty fine job of giving flavour without the need for too much sweet (I’m going to comment on this after the recipe so do read to the bottom).
It also uses buckwheat, which is gluten-free, a great source of fibre and a source of other minerals. To add to the nutrients you’ve got the sweet potato, the coconut oil and the nuts & seeds which are all great sources of various things. Too many nutrients and minerals to list – just trust me that it’s all really good for you ok!? Basically, compared to a Special K bar, these cardamon bad boys are in another league.
Sugar-free Cardamom breakfast bars
Makes 8-10 bars. Gluten free, sugar-free, very low fructose
- 1 ½ cups (100g) buckwheat groats (soaked in water for at least an hour and then rinsed and dried as much as possible)
- 1 heaped cup (130g) of almonds or a mix of other nuts if you want
- ½ cup (85g) mixed sunflower & pumpkin seeds
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 4 tbsp cashew butter (or another sugar-free nut butter like peanut or almond)
- 15g butter (replace with 2 tbsp coconut oil if you want dairy free)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (replace with another 15g butter if you don’t have this)
- 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
- 6 cardamom pods
- pinch of salt
- Bake or microwave the sweet potato. I do mine for 6-7mins in the microwave. Cool for a few minutes, remove the skin and mash with a fork.
- Toast the nuts for 10mins at 180C. Remove from the oven and chop roughly whilst you toast the seeds for 5-10mins. Add to a big bowl with the dried buckwheat groats.
- Grind the cardamom in a pestle and mortar or chop/crush with a knife and board
- Warm the coconut oil, butter, brown rice syrup & cashew butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Mix together.
- Add the cardamom, salt & then the sweet potato. Combine well still over a low heat to help you do this.
- Add this gloopy mixture to your bowl of dried ingredients and combine well.
- Take a big sheet of parchment paper and line a rectangular baking tray (approx 28cm x 18cm) so the parchment comes up over the sides. Push the mixture into this and spread out evenly.
- Place in the freezer for an hour to set and then remove and cut into portion sizes. Re-freeze or refridgerate.
Usage and storage
These need to be kept either in the fridge or freezer and should be a bit chewy coming from the fridge. Keep ones you want to eat that week in the fridge. Wrap a few other portions in cling film and freeze them. When you want to eat, just take out, put in the microwave for 60 seconds to soften slightly and eat there and then or take out with you to naturally defrost for an on-the-go breakfast alternative.
Why not add a little more natural sweetness?
I’m not going to deny, these bars could be enhanced with some more natural sweetness and some of you with a strong sweet tooth might be crying out for them to taste sweeter. The recipe I was inspired by used honey. I’m sure dates, dried fruit etc. would be nice in these bars and the sugar is natural right?
I’ve kept them super low fructose for a few reasons. The first reason is because I honestly like eating things that taste a lot less sweet these days and I simply don’t want to crave sugar in the same way as I used to.
The day I made these I went into a posh grocers in Wimbledon called Bayley & Sage. Incredible things in there and a very beautiful display of sweet goodies (cookies, flapjacks, muffins etc.). However, I wasn’t really that fussed about anything on it and this still feels weird to me after being an inherent ‘sweet tooth’ for so many years where I would have been drooling excessively. I was more drawn to the cheese counter and the nuts buffet!
I am so much more savoury inclined these days and I like being that way – I feel empowered and I don’t have to use my will power to resist sugar cravings. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate sweeter things when I do have them, but in much much smaller quantities. For that reason I continue to eat lower sugar & lower fructose where I can, getting the sweet in my diet from fresh fruit & sugary special occasions every now and then.
Other reasons why I kept sugar substitutes out of this recipe:
- It’s really hard to find recipes for stuff like this that doesn’t go mental on medjool dates, honey or agave etc. so I’m doing my bit to provide something – I see the space in the recipe market!
- You could eat these quite happily during a sugar ‘detox’ period.
- You could easily add something in if you wanted to e.g. some honey, dates, raisins, extra brown rice syrup and the recipe will probably still work fine and still be relatively healthy i.e. refined sugar free.
- I suspect, if these were much sweeter, portion control would get harder i.e. you might want to eat more than one!
What do you think about using natural sweeteners in recipes? Would you like more lower fructose options or would you prefer something to taste a little sweeter with the help of natural things? Would love to hear what you all think on this one as it would really help me with planning future blog posts and recipes. Let me know!