Allergen-Free Sweet ‘n’ Salty Trail Mix Bars Recipe

Since we’ve been gluten-free (more than five years, now), one of the things I’ve missed the most is granola bars — crunchy ones, chewy ones, I like ’em all. Lately, there have been a ton of “trail mix” kinds of granola bars that have just made my mouth water as I sadly pass them by in the grocery store aisle. We’re not only gluten-free, we’re oat-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free and dairy-free. This cuts down on our snacking options considerably.

Recently, I decided to stop pouting and do something about it. I found that it’s fairly easy to make your own allergen-free “granola” bars. This recipe uses a variety of seeds and dried fruit combined with puffed rice cereal to make a chewy, sweet “granola” bar.

I get most of my ingredients in bulk from a local, natural foods store, which keeps the cost low.

If no one in your home is allergic to nuts, of course, you could use any nut you’d like (though almonds would be difficult to slice through).

Recipe Notes:
~Do use rice PUFFS, not crisp rice. Puffed millet also works, or a combination of the two.
~To ensure that your seeds (pumpkin/squash, sunflower, etc.) are uncontaminated, consider buying raw, then pan roasting them at home: Pour a couple teaspoons sunflower (or other) oil in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat. Add the raw seeds, stir to coat. Stir very frequently just until the seeds start to brown. Pour immediately into a paper-towel-lined bowl, and cool.
~Watch your thermometer!!  If the mixture cooks too long, you’ll have too-hard-to-chew bars.  Once you’ve reached the proper temperature, work quickly, as the mixture will continue to cook (and the temperature rise) until you’ve poured it out of the saucepan.  I’ve found that the honey mixture is a little more forgiving to over-cooking than corn syrup.

67aed3a1.jpg picture by Karen-Joy67aed3a1.jpg picture by Karen-JoyAllergen-Free Sweet ‘n’ Salty Trail Mix Bars

1 cup honey (or corn syrup)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or coconut) extract or flavoring
1 tsp salt (optional)
A total of 3 quarts (12 cups) mix, using 3 or more of the following ingredients:

  • 4-8 cups of puffed rice or puffed millet cereal
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • other dried berries
  • other dried fruit, like bits of dried pineapple or mango
  • banana “chips” (dried, fried banana slices — sweetened or unsweetened)
  • flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • roasted, shelled sunflower seeds
  • roasted, shelled pumkin seeds (also called pepitas)

Line an 11″ x 17″ pan (jellyroll pan) with aluminum foil — preferably nonstick foil. Spray the foil surfaces (even if using nonstick foil) with spray-oil, or coat with dairy-free shortening or margarine.

In a large heatproof bowl (stainless steel, ceramic or glass) combine the cereal, fruit, seeds and salt (if using). Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the honey (or corn syrup) and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure that the thermometer is immersed in the mixture, but not touching the bottom of the pan. If using corn syrup: Cook without stirring until the thermometer reaches 238 degrees F. If using honey: Cook without stirring until thermometer reaches 250 degrees F. Quickly remove from heat, quickly stir in the vanilla (or other flavoring), then pour the hot mixture over the cereal mixture. With a wooden or heat-proof plastic spoon, mix and stir until the syrup mixture coats the cereal mixture.  Immediately turn out onto the prepared, lined pan. With oiled hands (or just slip a plastic sandwich bag over your hand), press the mixture firmly down until it fills the pan.

Set the pan aside to cool for a bit (approximately 15 – 45 minutes, depending on weather). This is the only really tricky part of this recipe: If the bars are too warm, they will not cut well; they’ll be too gooey. But, if you wait too long, they will have hardened, making it very difficult to cut through. So, when the bars are mostly-cool, and somewhat firm, using an oiled knife or pizza cutter, cut into 36 rectangular bars.

After bars are cooled completely, to preserve their freshness and chewiness, wrap each bar in a small square of plastic wrap.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on November 17, 2007, in Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, GF Recipes, GFCF Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. That is beautiful! It looks delicious! Did you find this recipe on the link you were telling me about when you were searching for dairy free pumpkin pie? The link didn’t work in your comment, btw. Feel free to give it another shot, here or on my blog.

    Enjoy your yummy looking treats! 🙂

  2. These look fabulous, Karen! I’m thinking you need to publish a book of all your great recipe ideas : )

  3. Mrs N ~ Well, I didn’t get the exact recipe from anywhere, but I did look into different popcorn ball recipes, and experimented with a few of them, then came up with my own ingredients & temps based on the failures/successes of the various recipes tried. … I’m sorry about the nonworking link! I’ll have to go back to your blog & add another comment.

    Childlife ~ Thanks!! A friend & I are working on a cookbook, but I think she’s actually working more diligently than I am… She bakes a TON, and I only bake 2-3x/week. But, the eventual plan is to get a cookbook together.

  4. I was SO happy to come across this recipe – I have a severe oat allergy and love nothing better than a granola bar I am going modify a little bit and add some nuts, but i may have found the solution to my craving!~ thx

  5. Hi Karen,

    I tried this recipe! It was really good!!!! The only issue I had is that I added the vanilla a bit quickly and it splattered on me and I got burned, so next time I will actually remove the mixture from the heat first.
    I love the fact that it made about 24-30 bars. I now have a bag stocked full of them and can use them for my husbands lunches. This is the first recipe I’ve tried. I will definitley be trying more! 🙂

  6. By the way, I know you mentioned to remove from heat, but I was trying to do everything so fast that I skipped that step. Guess I learned my lesson 😦

  7. Is the sugar an absolute must? Would the bars still be tasty with only the honey? Let me know if you’ve tried this.

    • Carole, I don’t think it would work w/o sugar. Boiled sugar acts like a glue in a way that honey doesn’t. (Think popcorn balls.)

      • Karen, Thank you for all your recipes.I have a young friend who is 10 and has celiac disease, but is also diabetic. Do you have any suggestions for eliminating honey and sugar from your recipes? I have made your rice milk and used Splenda. Guess you’re right about the sugar being the glue in the granola bars. If you come up with any other “glue”, please post! God bless you and your precious family.

        • You may want to try fructose!! It’s nearly twice as sweet at “normal” sucrose sugar, and has the same number of carbs, and doesn’t affect blood sugar as dramatically as sucrose. I recently discovered fructose. I know it can be easily substituted for sugar in normal recipes (use half to 2/3 as much fructose), but I don’t know if it melts like sucrose/regular sugar.

  8. threenewetexans

    I”m looking forward to making these for my son with oat, nut, peanut, and dairy allergies (among many others). He misses granola bars and I miss having an easy portable snack for him.

  9. Would crisp rice cereal work in this recipe, or does it have to be the puffed variety? My son has only been on a GF/CF diet for about 4 weeks now, and I am always on the lookout for good portable food for him.

    • I think crisp rice cereal would work. I don’t remember why I used puffed… likely because that’s what I had on hand, and that it was cheaper. You probably know this, but most crisp rice cereal on the market is not GFCF, as it contains malt extract. You have to look for a brand like Erewhon for GF rice crisps.

  10. Thanks! I do have the Erewhon rice crisps, and we like them a lot better than the puffed rice. I am going to try these later this week, if I get the chance. I am going to make your sugar cookies today for my son’s party at school tomorrow. I couldn’t find “sweet rice flour”, but I found glutinous rice flour at the international market. Is this the same? Thanks for your recipes!! They look so good. The cookies will be my first attempt at using one of them, so I’ll let you know how it goes. God bless you!! Have a happy Sunday!

    • YES. Glutinous rice is the same thing as sweet rice (“glutinous” here means sticky — it is also the thing as short-grain rice and sushi rice — it bears no similarities to “regular” gluten).

  11. Great!! Thanks!!

  12. I ran across your blog while looking for some kind of trail mix to make for an upcoming road trip for my seriously food allergic son. I couldn’t stop reading! 🙂 I identify with so much of what you have said! The multiple allergies really do complicate cooking so much more than one can possibly imagine until in the middle of it (especially corn–I’m with you, it used to be such a staple for us too, until my little guy showed up allergic to it probably from “overexposure” according to the allergist–ugg!) Anyway, thank you for posting. I’ll definitely be back. 🙂

  13. Oops, guess I haven’t typed my blog address in awhile. It is correct above.

  1. Pingback: Homemade Gluten-Free Trail Mix Bars for About 30 Cents Each | Did Ya See?

  2. Pingback: Homemade Gluten-Free Trail Mix Bars for About 30 Cents Each | Long and Isabel

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