A long, busy day ahead? A train, plane, bus or road trip coming up? Something to munch on between classes? A tasty, satisfying, healthful snack to bring along with you is always convenient. All it takes is a little planning ahead to pick up a few required ingredients, some time to put the recipe together, and in this case of my raw vegan granola bars: 12 hours total in the dehydrator.
A dehydrator is a fun, versatile and useful kitchen tool for preparing many raw vegan recipes, but if you don’t have one and are not interested in making the investment, you can bake these granola bars in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
In my opinion, however, there are certain advantages to choosing a dehydrator over an oven. A dehydrator uses a fan and much lower heat than an oven to remove the water content from foods without actually “cooking” them.
Heat can denature or transform foods and make them less nutritious. To get technical, a food can be considered raw so long as it is not heated above 118°F (or according to some, 120°F). According to raw food experts and proponents, such as Dr. Brian Clement and Dr. Gabriel Cousens, foods cooked above 120°F lose much of their nutritional value because most of their natural enzymes are destroyed by heat and may even create some toxins for the body.
A dehydrator can help create the taste and feel of our favorite cooked foods, while maintaining the nutrition of whole foods by keeping their enzymes and vitamins intact. Raw and organic whole foods can be very healing for people with certain diseases and can help rejuvenate the body. Dr. Cousens for example uses a raw vegan diet to help his patients reverse Type II Diabetes and other severe illnesses.
Although many raw foodists take an all or nothing approach and choose to maintain a fully raw diet, for some people this may sound impossible or simply undesirable. Going fully raw is definitely doable and may improve your health drastically, however, I believe we can all benefit from adding more raw foods to our diets thereby maximizing our nutrition without necessarily removing all cooked foods overnight. These delicious, nutritious, filling and easy to make granola bars are a lovely addition to anyone’s diet. Give them a try!
If, on the other hand, you are ready to transform your diet completely there are many resources out there to support you, including my beloved culinary institute, Living Light Culinary Institute, where I learned not only how to prepare scrumptious fully raw meals and desserts, but also the science behind it.
Raw Vegan Granola Bars
Makes about 20 bars
1 ½ cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1 ¼ cup raw almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your choice)
¾ cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- Place chopped dates, vanilla extract and agave nectar in a food processor and blend until mixture becomes a thick, chunky paste.
- With the help of a spatula, scoop date mixture into a large bowl and stir in all remaining ingredients.
- Place about 1/3 of the mixture at a time into the food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times. Mixture should be sticky with large chunks of fruit and nuts. Continue until all the granola has been processed.
- Place granola on a dehydrator tray lined with a paraflexx drying sheet. Form a square shape about 1-inch thick and score the granola into rectangular bars of desired size.
- Dehydrate for 6 hours at 110°F. Flip the granola onto another dehydrator tray without the drying sheet. Score again so that the bars are more defined. Dehydrate for another 6 hours. Bars will be firm but moist and chewy when ready.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.” ~Orison Swett Marden