Friday, November 18, 2011

Nina Bars

Vegan Granola Bars

This recipe was designed for my Mom who, like many of us, would rather spend her precious, pre-work morning moments surfing Facebook than cooking breakfast.  She was looking for something that wouldn't spike/crash her sugar levels,  that would be easy to take to go, and that would tide her over until lunch.

The first version I made for her was a bit different - it had egg and wheat bran, and was a bit too dry.  Lately I've been reading some things that have me, once again, questioning whether or not I want to include eggs in my diet, so I decided to give it a go without the eggs and see if it would stick together.  It did, and now Nina bars are vegan and cholesterol free.   Flax seed meal often stands in for eggs in vegan baking, and I believe that the flax/soy milk/heat combo is what helps these bars to stay together.
This is no skimpy granola bar.  It's hearty.  It's full of whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit.  It has peanut butter and olive oil in it.  In other words, it has fat.  What it doesn't have, is added sugar or highly processed carbs.   Feel free to experiment with the nuts and fruits you use, as well as the oil and nut butter.  Just make sure that you're using a natural nut butter that has one ingredient on the ingredients list; the nut.  I would really try to avoid commercial peanut butters with all the added sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oils.

This was the test run

2 cups rolled oats
½ cup flax seed meal
½ cup whole wheat flour - 
substitue buckwheat/quinoa or other flour if you want a gluten free version
½ t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 T ginger
1/2 cup agave
4 T olive oil (coconut would be a nice substitution)
1 t vanilla
¼ cup natural nut butter
½ cup unsweetened soy milk
1 cup dried fruit:  ½ cup loosely packed raisins  ½ cup chopped, dried figs
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan.  I used a 9X9 silicon pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients:  oats, flax, flour, and spices.
For ease of measuring, add all of the liquid ingredients into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, along with the peanut butter, and mix well.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until incorporated, then fold in your additions;  nuts, seeds, dried fruits. 
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes - until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. 
Cool, turn out, and cut.
Save in an airtight container for up to a week, or throw a few in the freezer.

*** Hind Sight Note:  Adding 2 t of baking soda powder to the dry ingredients adds a little fluff and a makes for a cakey-er bar.

Vegan Granola Bars


I used a recipe analysis tool to calculate the nutrition facts on these bars and the results are below.  This is if the batch is divided in 12 bars - 82 grams each.  Now you might think, holy crap, 303 calories, what?!  So I went to the Quaker Oats page and did some research.  Those 90 calorie bars they advertise?  Well, they're 24 grams.  Our Nina bars are 82 grams.  In order to get to the 24 gram point, we'd have to divide them into 38 (THIRTY EIGHT) servings.  If you did that, you'd find that these bars have half the sodium, twice the protein, fewer sugar carbs, and none of these ingredients:  SUGAR, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NONFAT DRY MILK, CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, GLYCERIN, INVERT SUGAR.CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SOYBEAN OIL, SORBITOL, FRUCTOSE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, WATER, CREAMED COCONUT, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), CITRIC ACID.

And if that's not enough, these aren't individually wrapped in 38 pieces of cellophane and packaged in 3 or four boxes.

Something to think about.  Enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 82 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 1%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 5%Iron 15%
Nina, by the way, is the name given to my mom by her eldest granddaughter, Madeline.  Madeline is 11 which means we've now been calling Mom "Nina" for about 9 years.  Myla, the little one, calls her Nona (nah-nah), which would be an equally good name for the bars. 

This picture was sent in by my friend Jen.
Her substitutions are in the comments below.
Thanks Jen!


  1. Hey Lacey! It's Jen from India :) I'm LOVING your blog, great job! I decided to try you Nina bar recipe today. Hoping for some quick yummy nutrition in the morning for Cody on his way to work, I'm crossing my fingers he will like these bars. I tend to try and hide the flax seed, wheat germ, chia seeds behind things like pb, maple surup, coconut milk, and Earth Balance. Hey a wife's gotta do what a wife's gotta do. Anyway, I had to substitute a lot because we didn't have many of the ingredients and I've been too sick to drive (blood clot in my brain-but hey at least I'm strong enough to bake :) So here are my substitutions:

    Round 1
    Rolled oats-Quick Oats
    Whole Wheat-Quinoa
    Agave-1/2 Agave and 1/2 Maple (Want to save what I have, who know when I'll get to store next)
    Olive Oil-Forgot-brain confusion
    Vanilla-oops forgot that too :)
    Nut butter-Whole Food Honey PB 1/2
    Soy Milk-Silk Coconut Milk a little extra then called for
    Just Raisins
    No pumpkin seeds
    left over Ezekel Food for Life cereal 1/4
    Granola a friend brought to me in hospital 1/3
    Arabon protien powder vanilla 1T

    Yes it was a bit of this and that but it was flippin delicious, despite a few forgotten ingredients. So much so, I made a second batch an hour later!

    Round 2:
    Gluten Free for my friend Karen who took such good care of me while I was sick.


    Quick Oats
    Chia Seeds
    Agave/Maple mix
    Coconut Oil
    Coconut Milk
    Remembered the Vanilla!
    Sun Butter
    Forgot the raisins :(
    Added Mixed nuts

    I also made half this batch for me who can't have nuts anymore, so I used coconuts and seeds instead of nut butters and soy milk. They were also very yummy but crunchier and "healthier" tasting then the first batch. Next time I try I'm going to make sure I have pumpkin seeds.

    Hope you enjoyed making these as much as I did! Thanks for the recipe and keep up the good work darling! I have a picture, I wonder how I post it?
    Jen Gardner

  2. Jen this is wonderful! I'm so happy to see that you gave these a shot and even better - that you made them your own. Improvisation is what it's all about. Thanks for posting the picture on Facebook, I hope Cody liked them :) Metta!