Vanilla Almond Snack Bars
Chewy and wholesome snack bars that are sweet ‘n salty, packed with whole foods, and are made without grains or refined sugars.
Here’s a healthy recipe I made for our camping trip last weekend. Along with these not-so-healthy cookies and these flourless cookies, there wasn’t a homemade treat left by the time we left on Sunday. I personally could not stop snacking on these vanilla almond bars.
By the way, as I type this post– I keep laughing every time I type snack bar. You know that I worked as a waitress at Chili’s years ago, but before that I worked at a snack bar at a swim club in the summertime. Not long after I started, I was dubbed the name “Snack Bar Sally.” Kevin loved learning about that nickname when I ran into friends a few months ago. And he had a heyday when I made these snack bars for the trip.
Snack Bar Sally’s Vanilla Almond Snack Bars, everyone.
I loved these feel-good snack bars. I nearly ate the entire batch myself. I’ve already been brainstorming different flavor variations– maybe even one with coconut? Stay tuned. These vanilla almond snack bars are simple and wholesome with a sweet taste that won’t give you a sugar crash. They’re an easy fruit and nut bar, similar to a KIND bar. They’re grain-free, gluten free, have no refined sugars, and are packed with whole, natural ingredients like almonds, dates, and seeds. Usually I add a little oats to energy/granola bars but I wanted to keep the main ingredients purely nuts and dried fruit.
Do you remember my recipe for Gluten Free Apple Crisp? One of my favorite recipes from last year? No, really… it was. That simple recipe blew my mind. Just like it, today’s recipe is not just “really good for a gluten free recipe.” It’s just plain REALLY GOOD. Also like that recipe? The addition of almond meal. For anyone not familiar with almond meal, don’t get nervous. Almond meal is just ground almonds– ground almonds before reaching the stage of almond butter.
Almond meal (also known as almond flour, if using blanched almonds and grinding a little more fine) is so easy to make at home; cheaper than buying pre-made almond meal or almond flour, trust me. Simply pulse them until they reach a gritty and rough flour-like consistency. Like so:
Almond meal helps bind the snack bar’s ingredients. There are also whole almonds, chopped roughly, in the bars as well. You will love their crunchy texture. Salted sunflower seeds bulk the bars up and, when paired with the dates and honey, supply that satisfying sweet and salty flavor we all know and love.
Speaking of… for a little sweetness, use honey. I do not recommend thinner liquid sweeteners like maple syrup or agave. Rather, you want a thick liquid sweetener. Brown rice syrup works too. You don’t need much, only 1/3 cup for the entire batch of bars. For flavor? Well, we have the honey. Also: almonds, dates, and vanilla extract. The pairing of dates and vanilla is blissfully good– the same irresistible duo that make up my popular chocolate truffle energy bites. (I make those energy bites at least once a month.)
The snack bars are baked for only around 20 minutes, just until they are relatively set and the ingredients bind together properly.
They’re sweet ‘n salty, simple, wholesome, flavorful, chewy, grain-free, and do not contain a trace of refined sugar. Not only this, the snack bars are much cheaper than store-bought “healthy” snack bars. Aren’t those things like $2.50 per bar? Insane. You can also control the ingredients packed inside. I sorta like knowing what I’m eating. Snack on!
– Snack Bar Sally
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Vanilla Almond Snack Bars
Chewy and wholesome snack bars that are slightly sweet 'n salty, packed with whole foods, and are made without grains or refined sugars.
- 1/3 cup (114g) honey or brown rice syrup1
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (30g) almond meal2
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon (15g) almond butter
- 1 and 1/3 cups (187g) Diamond of California whole almonds, roughly chopped
- 5 Medjool dates, coarsely chopped3
- 3/4 cup (105g) salted sunflower seeds4
- Food processor or small blender to easily chop the almonds or make the almond meal (here's the own I own and love!)
- Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Line an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars from the pan. Set aside.
- Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix the honey, vanilla, almond meal, salt, and almond butter together until combined. Fold in the almonds, chopped dates, and sunflower seeds until combined.
- Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. You really want it packed in tight- as tight as possible. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 more hour. This helps firm up the bars which makes them stay compact. Remove bars from the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap or parchment. Store at room temperature for 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I find they get a little sticky at room temperature over a few days, so I prefer the refrigerator.
- Make ahead tip: These bars are freezer friendly. After wrapping individually, freeze for up to 3 months and thaw before enjoying.
- I do not suggest a thinner sweetener like maple syrup or agave-- honey or brown rice syrup is perfect.
- You can use store-bought almond meal or almond flour, or you can make your own. Start with 1/4 cup of slivered, sliced, or whole almonds. Pulse them in a food processor until a crumbly meal has formed. Do not run the food processor continuously; you may end up with almond butter. Little pulses are best. You will end up with around 1/4 cup almond meal.
- Instead of dates, try 1/2 cup (75g) raisins or dried cranberries.
- I like to use salted sunflower seeds because they add a little salt to the sweet dates/honey. I love the salty sweet taste and I think you will too. If using unsalted, add another 1/8 teaspoon salt to the recipe. Instead of sunflower seeds, try using chopped peanuts, cashews, or almonds.
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Here are more gluten free recipes.
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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
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