For my brother and me, the third Thursday in April is practically a national holiday. I'm talking about two disparate celebrations of national import (at least in my opinion): Low Carbon Diet Day and National High Five Day. The company I work for, Bon Appétit Management Company, is serious about its carbon footprint. Through a number of purchasing and sustainability initiatives, we’ve substantially slashed our carbon emissions in a short period of time. Each year, we make our internal goal a public celebration in all of our 450+ cafés. To demonstrate easy ways guests can reduce their contributions to global warming, we do fun stuff like remove burgers from the grill menu, serve up pizzas without cheese, and give out smaller portions of hearty fare. People love it? We quell the carnivores with turkey burgers and somehow it all works out.
National High Five Day speaks for itself. My brother, who probably won’t like this descriptor but is very theatrical, worked with some friends on a music video for the holiday. They practically own the day. I strongly recommend you check out the video below. My brother is the rapping redhead. I don’t know where he came from!
When our Director of Strategic Sourcing and Research asked me to develop a Low Carbon Diet-approved granola bar recipe for an event at San Francisco General Hospital, I predictably jumped at the chance. To qualify as low carbon, I needed to keep my granola bars out of the oven and free of dairy products. It took a few tries, but I settled on a recipe that was perfect for the healthy-eating, low carbon message we were sharing with the masses at SFGH today.
In a departure from many processed granola bars, mine are made with heart-healthy fats: extra-virgin olive oil, almond butter, and toasted almonds. Sweetened only with honey and dried unsweetened cherries, they won’t give you a sugar buzz and are intended to keep your energy levels high. Individually wrapped as in the photo above, they make for perfect on-the-go snacks without the weird ingredients and carbon footprint of their traditional counterparts. Now that deserves a high five!
chewy no-bake granola bars
yields 12 bars
¼ cup smooth almond butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup honey
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats*
2/3 cup raw almonds, chopped
heaping ½ cup dried unsweetened cherries, roughly chopped if very large
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
Lightly coat an 8”x8” baking dish with oil or cooking spray.
Grind 1 cup oats in a blender, food processor, or spice grinder until a coarse flour forms. Pour oat flour into a large bowl and add remaining whole oats, almonds, cherries, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, warm almond butter, olive oil and honey. Stir occasionally and watch carefully. You don’t want the mixture to boil! When mixture is fully blended and hot but neither simmering nor boiling, remove from heat and set aside.
Pour heated liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir vigorously to evenly coat. Scoop mixture into prepared baking dish and press down firmly. Since you’re not baking these bars, it’s important to really pack down the granola! The mixture will be very sticky, so I find that it helps to lightly oil my hand or use a small square of parchment paper when pressing the granola.
Cover and transfer dish to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, and then cut into desired number of bars. Store bars covered in the fridge for up to a week. The remaining bars can stay in the baking dish, but may dry out over time. Individual bars can be wrapped for snacking on the go.
*Seek out certified gluten-free oats, such as those from Bob’s Red Mill, if you’re sensitive to gluten.