Here, granola bars you can feel good about because they are packed with nutrition along with a bit of chocolate for the kids (and you).
I seem almost compulsively drawn to putting some sort of nut, nut butter, or nut flour in my recipes. However, once you have a kid at a nut-free school, it is like bashing your head against the fridge because, once again, you made something they cannot bring to school.
I created these nut-free granola bars with creamy tahini instead of nut butter. I opted for crunchy, zinc-rich pumpkin seeds to support gut health and immunity.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the carrot, rolled oats, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and salt.
In a small bowl, mix together the banana, tahini, maple syrup, orange zest and juice until well combined.
Add the banana mixture to the carrot mixture and then mix them together with your hands. It is a bit messy (and fun!), but it is the best method for this type of dough.
Press the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly until about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick; do not worry about pressing the dough to the edges of the pan.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the edges are firm and golden brown. The bars will still be soft in the middle. Place the baking sheet on a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then carefully transfer to a cutting board and cut into 12 bars or a size of your choice.
Let cool fully to firm up, then store loosely covered with plastic wrap on the counter for up to 5 days. These bars also freeze well, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for up to 1 month.