Monday, September 30, 2013

Bird Bars.

This recipe is for my Mother.  If there is one other person in the world who really "gets" my occasional food obsessions, it's her.  We have so much in common this way; we happily will trade ideas and variations on themes, morphing ideas of what we should be eating with attempts at reducing our collective sweet tooth. 

bird bar.

When she was in town briefly last week, we stopped at my food co-op and she excitedly grabbed a couple of their house made Birdy Bars.  I had never tried them, already being a devotee of their Little Oaties (more than one pregnant trip was made especially to pick up a soft oatmeal cookie sandwich to devour in the car... true story), which is dangerous enough.  But my Mom lives 3 1/2 hours away, so she said before she left, "You have to figure out how to make those, okay?"

So here you go, Mom:  this is my version of the Birdy Bar.  I was surprised that I got it in one try, but having already mastered a number of vegan truffles/energy bars based on nuts, seeds, and the like I had a pretty good working knowledge of what it takes to make a seedy bar stick together.  And, I had saved the ingredient label from the original.  Hopefully, Outpost will forgive my treasonous homemade version - especially since I purchased all my bulk ingredients from them!

bird bar.

The only thing I didn't do this time and would do next time is completely melt the peanut butter and honey and bring it to a just simmer in a small pot.  I had a few dry pockets of seeds, and I think this would make for a more homogenized bar.  That being said, I certainly don't mind the little messy bits:  it gives me the excuse I need to eat the errant snippets on plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream, or even gingery butternut squash soup as seen below...  Substitute almond butter for the peanut butter to make it paleo, and agave for the honey for a vegan option.

Bird Bars (Inspired by Outpost Food Co-op)
yields 9 smaller bars, or 4 "Outpost-sized" bars
  • 1 c. raw sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. sultanas (golden raisins)
  • heavy pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c. smooth peanut butter (natural, just peanuts and salt)
  • 1/4 c. honey
Preheat the oven to 325.  Line a 8x8 square pan with parchment paper.

Basically, just mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.  As I mentioned in the note above, you could melt the peanut butter and honey together in a small saucepan and then pour over the seedy ingredients to ensure a better mixture.

Press the whole lot into the prepared pan, and bake for about 25 minutes until the seeds around the edges are just starting to look a little golden.  Cool completely in the pan before removing to a cutting board and portioning into bars.  Wrap them individually, and hide half so you don't grab them all right away.

bird bar.
butternut squash soup.

The original version has almonds and dried cranberries, and I'd imagine you could doctor these with just about anything, so long as you don't stray too much from the ratio.  Upping the "wet" ingredients just a little bit might allow for a completely raw bar too - if you're into that sort of thing, but I like the soft set texture of the baked version.

Sesame seeds are actually a good source of calcium, but the unhulled seeds contain far more (like 90-95% more) than the hulled counterparts.  That's something to consider as you add them to your diet for that reason.  I like trying to include more of them in my food because they have anti-inflammatory properties and help with regulating cholesterol, not to mention they are just downright tasty in large quantities.  Recently I made myself a batch of simple granola that was surprisingly great.  You wouldn't think so few ingredients would be so delicious, and really highlight the unique flavor of sesame!

bird bar.

And while I'm talking about granolas, the one on the left in the picture above is what is left from a truly amazing Gingersnap Granola I snagged from the Bojon Gourmet last Friday.  That is another recipe I know my Mom will absolutely love... and I was trying hard to not mention it because I know if I surprised her with a jar of it on our next visit she would be as crazy for it as I am!

It does seem like I have a lot of bird food going on over here as I finally sit to think about what I've made in the past week or so.  I suppose I have enough real food to fill in the gaps, but just what is it about snack foods that are so appealing?


  1. These guys sound delicious, & so easy! I'm always on the lookout for bar recipes that don't require specialty ingredients (i.e. dates) or a food processor, so I'm super excited to try these out. :)

  2. These look delicious, Rebecca! I'm loving the photos. I'm bothered by bars that are overly sweet, but these look like they'd be just right. Thanks for the sweet shout-out! I'm so honored that you gave my granola a go. It's a good thing I live so far away, otherwise I'd come and raid your pantry. ;)

  3. We make a version where I work called honeybee bars. We use cashews instead of pumpkin seeds and no raisins but besides that it is pretty much the same. We don't heat the pb and honey at all- just blend together in the mixer. We're working on a chocolate version. It would be great with nibs but these are already one of the most expensive things we make (and easy to burn for inattentive bakers) so we might try cocoa and tiny chips.

    1. Next to macadamias, I think cashews are my favorite nut. Oh and pistachio. All pricey, of course. I think chocolate version sounds perfect... and nibs are a worthy splurge at home if not in a bakeshop :) If you hit on something and can share the recipe - please do!!

  4. THANK YOU so much! I was visiting Milwaukee from Maryland and bought one of the Outpost bars at the hospital cafe while my mom was getting chemo. I fell in love. I knew they'd be pretty easy to make once I figured out the proportions. Thanks so much for the guidance!!


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