I try to support local businesses. I do, really. Before Barnes and Noble took over the world, I tried to buy most of my books from small independent bookstores. (Full disclosure: I did work at Barnes and Noble after college, which was an awesome job for a book lover, but that’s when they were a SMALL chain. Yeah, I’m old.) Now that Amazon has taken over the world, I try to shop at Barnes and Noble. You get the idea.
So when I saw a very narrow little health food shop open up near my home, I got very excited. Especially when I realized they had some gluten free stuff. Although there are plenty of small grocers in a nearby neighborhood that sell (insanely overpriced) GF stuff, there is nothing this close. Now whenever I’m walking by, I stop in to see how I can support them and not go broke (golden chia seed is VERY expensive, sigh).
Mostly I’ve been stocking up on my family’s beloved Cheddar Nut Thins. Have you tried these? SO GOOD! The cheese powder is addictive like Doritos but on a rice cracker, which means you can eat the whole bag in one sitting and not feel guilty. Unless your kid asks for some in an accusatory way. Then you feel a little guilty.
Anyway, the other day I decided to bite the bullet and buy Kind brand’s Blueberry Vanilla Granola. I had been debating on making my own granola for a while now, but haven’t had the time or energy. I figured I’d use my baking time for muffins and cookies while supporting a local business. Besides, the price was reasonable and I like Kind bars. Seemed like a win win situation. As a bonus, when I checked the ingredients there was NO natural vanilla flavor, just REAL vanilla extract. No potential beaver butt for me!
However, everything went to crap when I tasted it and nearly gagged. It was like eating plastic crunchy stuff. I sniffed inside the bag. It smelled like it tasted. Horrible. I made my husband, who has the nose of a hunting dog, smell and taste it. He confirmed my fears. It was rancid. We checked the expiration which was only a month away. (For the record, I’ve had Kind granola before and it was fine, I’m thinking this bag was just old.)
[The moral of this story is not to avoid small stores, but to always check expiration dates. Close ones like this should be avoided, especially when shelling out the big bucks for GF.]
I’m usually not the bring-it-back-to-the-store kind of girl, even when I should, but this time I had to. The lady at the register was very courteous about the whole thing, which was a relief since I was all anxious and sweaty. Not only because I was holding Little Guy. I always get that way in any kind of confrontation situation, even when I’m in the right. Totally pathetic, I know. She smelled and tasted the granola. I tried to read her expression to see if she thought I was another crazy hyper sensitive customer or if she agreed. From the look on her face I think the latter. But regardless, she let me exchange it for a bag of Bob Red Mill’s GF oats. I always need more oats. Especially with recipes like this delish looking honey muffin one and this flourless oatmeal cookie hanging out my Pinterest Treats board.
All those extra oats and a desire for something that actually tasted like blueberries and vanilla inspired the latest in my ball series. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, they might be my new fave.
Blueberry Granola Balls (or Bars, your call)
- 1 + 1/2 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup almonds
- approximately 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup gluten free oats
- 1/2 cup dried blueberries*
* If you don’t have dried blueberries, which can be crazy expensive, feel free to sub in cranberries or skip the fruit all together and toss in a teaspoon or so of cinnamon. They’re your balls now.
In a food processor, blend the softened dates a bit before adding the nuts. Process the nuts and dates together and then add the other ingredients up until the last two.
Lastly, add the blueberries and oats. Pulse until just combined. You don’t want to pulverize the oats. They add a nice texture.
Roll into balls and then put in the freezer for about an hour to chill. Store in freezer for best results. You can also press into a square (using parchment paper, the dough is VERY sticky) then freeze and cut into whatever shape you fancy.
Two little hints:
If you feel like the dough is too dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon more of coconut oil or maple syrup. If the dough is too wet, add a bit more oats, a tablespoon at a time.
If you want the nuts very finely ground, like I do sometimes for Little Guy, process those FIRST and then set aside. Then process the dates into a paste. Add the finely ground nuts and then continue with the recipe.
It’s also posted on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on this link-up will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.