Sunday, February 6, 2011

Apple Raisin Snack Bars (GAPS-legal, grain- and gluten-free)

These snack bars are amazingly easy to make, delicious, and filled with nourishing ingredients.  They make me wonder why I ever tried store-bought snack bars, like Lara bars or Kind bars. This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Nourished Kitchen.

Apple-raisin snack bars:
1 cup pecans
1 cup dried apples
1 cup raisins
1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional (I tend to like the clean flavor of the fruit without the cinnamon, but will occasionally add cinnamon to spice it up)

unrefined coconut oil, for greasing your hands

Soak pecans in water with a pinch of sea salt for 12-24 hours*. Rinse and drain well. Pulse nuts in a food processor until ground pretty well (but not too long or they'll start turning into nut butter). Dump nuts into a bowl. Then place apples, raisins, salt, and optional spices in
food processor and let it whir until well-combined and chopped. This will take longer than you think, but just let it keep going around and around. Then add back ground nuts and whir until well-combined. Dump it all onto a piece of wax paper. Then rub a bit of oil onto your hands to keep them from sticking to the mixture. Use your hands to do any last mixing necessary to get a consistent mixture, then form the mixture into a mound. Refrigerate for a couple hours, and then cut into pieces.

You can also vary the nuts and fruit to make other types. Lemon blueberry is delicious (made using almonds, dates, and dried blueberries with a little lemon zest).

*Soaking the nuts neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.  Phytic acid blocks absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium; enzyme inhibitors make nuts hard to digest.

This recipe is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet!


ChickiePea said...

I thought you had to dehydrate the water back out to lose the phytic acid?

Sarah Smith said...

That is an excellent question. I had always assumed that drying the nuts after soaking was mostly for pleasing our palates, but your question gave me pause. I found a very informative article ( that basically says that soaking is the most important step, particularly a long soaking of at least 12 hours (but that cooking can be beneficial if there isn't time for a long soaking). If you are interested, below is a quote from the article. I also saw a recommendation in the comments section where the author recommends not cooking the nuts to keep the enzymes intact.

In nature, germination typically occurs when a plant seed encounters conditions that are favorable for its growth which typically involves water. As such, the germination of grains, nuts, beans, or seeds can be easily initiated by soaking them in water. Although mostly focused on grains and beans, research has shown soaking to be quite effective for the reduction of phytic acid in as little as 12 hours as well as the subsequent increase in mineral availability and for the reduction of protease inhibitors starting at about 36 hours. In both cases, the amount of reduction increases with time, especially for protease inhibitors. Soaking can also increase the content of some components of the vitamin A, B, C, and E complexes, and through the activation of amylase enzymes, helps to break down complex carbohydrates and improve their digestibility. This latter benefit is especially important for optimal digestive health because it will reduce the possibility of complex carbohydrates from being fermented in the intestines and contributing to the proliferation of undesirable bacteria.

When time is limited, the combination of soaking and cooking has been shown to be much more effective than only soaking for a short duration. However, because cooking has also been shown to be less effective at reducing phytic acid, soaking is still important. For grains and beans, light cooking is generally a good idea anyway since it further improves digestibility and deactivates natural plant toxins that may still exist after soaking.

justmejustmomjustmemorable said...

This looks like something I made with almonds, however, I have trouble digesting fatty foods. Can you suggest a low-fat alternative to the nuts? It looks really yummy and I'm a lover of raisins, apples and cinnamon.

Sarah Smith said...

Hmmm, I'm really not sure of a lowfat alternative. I have a hard time digesting almonds, I think because of their skins. Perhaps if you tried a different kind of nut that is easier to digest, such as cashews?

Anonymous said...

has anyone tried some of these nutty recipes using macadamias? I know they're expensive but they're about the only nut we can tolerate around here.

Sarah Smith said...

I'm sure macadamia nuts would work fine! I've also used them in the red cracker recipe, and they were good.

Anonymous said...

I've started popping the almond skins off my almonds after soaking them... I love them this way! It takes a lot less time to dehydrate them without the skins, as well.
One note: if I take the skins off right away after draining the rinse water, it's easy to take the skins off. If I wait till the skin is partially dry, it's harder and I might have to blanch the almonds (a few seconds in boiling water) to get the skins to pop off easily again.

Hope it helps! Am loving your blog and prepping to go on the GAPS wellness plan myself. Your recipes will help!

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for the tip! I have tried getting the skins off, with no muck. But I will try your method.

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

Yum! I wish we could make it right now, but we don't have the ingredients right now. Very yummy looking though! Thanks for sharing!

-Flannery at A Farm Girl's Life

Joe & Renee said...

Would pumpkin seeds work instead of nuts??? My son has severe nut allergies and we are just starting down the GAPS road to healing right now.

Sarah Smith said...

I'm not sure, as I've never used pumpkin seeds in a recipe before. If you try it, let me know how hey turn out!

Anonymous said...

Don't know if coconut is too fatty for you, but because of my AI issues I can't do nuts. I love it with coconut(use the same amt as nuts). I do add just a TBSP of water to combine it more evenly.