These Nut-free Granola Bars are vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free! These are loaded with delicious spices, have chewy and soft and crispy edges. They are healthy, made with sunflower seeds and allergy-friendly for kids as well and require just 8 ingredients!
3tablespoons (18g)ground flaxseed (I used golden) mixed with 6 tablespoons water
1/2cup (68g)raw, unsalted sunflower seed kernels, ground (without the shells)
1cup (100g)QUICK/INSTANT cooking oats (NOT regualr, see NOTE)
1/2cup (64g)superfine oat flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger (see NOTE)
1/4teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup+ 2 tablespoons (120g)pure maple syrup
1/3cup (75g)dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
Please don't sub the quick oats with regular, it will NOT work. Quick oats are much smaller and bake up completely different. Using whole oats will make them fall apart. You can find quick oats anywhere. Also, the ginger in these do NOT make them spicy whatsoever. My daughter absolutely LOVES these bars and has no clue there is ginger in them. You can taste the ginger a bit, but it's delicious. If you want it milder in ginger flavor, just reduce to 1 teaspoon, but I wouldn't omit it completely.
Always use a scale for accuracy when baking, following my gram weights listed. You never need cups, just the scale and bowl and make sure to hit zero before adding each ingredient.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and line a square baking dish with parchment paper cut to fit and lay both directions. My baking dish is is a little smaller than 8x8, more like 7 1/2, so if yours is a true 8x8, the bars just will be a bit thinner on the edges.
In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed and 6 tablespoons of water and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk well and set aside.
To a food processor, add the sunflower kernels and process about 30-45 seconds until a fine flour forms (as in the photo). Be careful not to over process or it will start to turn into a paste.
To a large bowl, add all of the sunflower flour to it, along with the oats, oat flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir really well. Add the chocolate chips.
To the bowl of reserved flaxseed mixture, it should be thick, whisk in the syrup well. Make sure it is no longer warm before adding to the dry ingredients (so it doesn't melt the chocolate chips). Stir everything together for a good minute or so until it all comes together in a moist, sticky batter. The more you stir, the stickier it will get. This is good, as that flaxseed helps to bind the bars.
To the lined pan, add the batter and spread out evenly with the back of the spoon as best you can. Now, take a square piece of parchment paper the size of the pan and place it on top. Press the mixture down flat and smooth out the top. Smooth your fingers along the edges and corners, making sure it's even. Really BE PATIENT with this step ensuring you are properly spreading it out to the corners and along the edges. Do not sloppily or quickly press it down or the bars will not form properly when baking.
Once it's smooth, flat and even, top with extra chocolate chips if desired. Bake for 30-32 minutes until the edges are looking golden brown and the middle is firm to the touch. Refer to photo.
Cool 1 hour. This is where they will firm up. Do NOT cut them before this unless you want crumbles! After an hour, lift them up with the parchment paper and cut desired shapes with a really sharp knife slowly. The crunchy edges may crack a bit but the bars should be firm and hold beautifully. They stay firm and moist for several days too. Keep stored in a sealed container or ziplock bag.