Canadian Lentils is holding a recipe contest for Canadian bloggers; to enter, you have to create a new and unique recipe using lentils. A few years ago, I thought that lentils were a strange, gross food that only health nuts like my sister ate. Of course, I had never actually tried them, and once I did, my opinion changed completely. Not only are lentils delicious, but they're incredibly versatile, very easy to prepare, and really good for you!
I love eating lentils in the usual dishes like curries, dals, and soups, but for this contest I wanted to use lentils in a dish that wouldn't typically have them. Since I've also been wanting to make my own granola bars for quite a while now, I decided to see if I could kill two birds with one stone by trying my hand at granola bars for the first time AND incorporating lentils into them!
I decided to make peanut butter granola bars because I love peanut butter, then I threw in some dates for sweetness and almonds for crunch, along with a touch of honey and vanilla for flavour.
I had no idea if lentils would taste good in granola bars and I was worried that because I wasn't working from an existing recipe, they would turn out with a strange texture or taste. Well, I was wrong - they turned out so much better than I could have expected! The first time I made them, they were a little too much on the soft side, so I increased the oats the next time and they were perfect. I would eat these over store-bought granola bars any day!
The peanut butter is definitely the predominant flavour in these, but you also get just the right amount of sweetness and crunch from the add-ins. These are a soft granola bar, but they're still sturdy enough to hold up as a bar. I love the soft and chewy texture of these because it makes them so different from the dried-out, hard granola bars I often get from the store.
You can't even taste the lentils in them either - I tried giving one to an unsuspecting taste-tester and she couldn't tell there were lentils in them, even after I told her they're in there. But even though you don't taste them, you still get to enjoy knowing you're getting all the benefits of lentils, including fiber, protein, and lots of other good things!
The best part about these is how easy they are to make! Other than the cooking time required for the lentils (which isn't long and is hands-off), all you have to do is mix a few things in a bowl, press the mixture in a pan, and that's it! For just a little work (and not much money either), you can get a big batch of healthy granola bars to eat throughout the week!
I liked these so much that I made a new batch as soon as I'd finished eating the first one, and I have a feeling I'll keep doing so for a while! I haven't experimented much with other add-ins yet, but I think there's a lot you could do with this recipe to make it suit your tastes!
Back to the Canadian Lentils Recipe contest I'm entering these granola bars in, part of the judging criteria is how much of a response the post elicits from readers, so if you like the sounds of this recipe, leave a comment below - tell me about your favourite lentil recipes, granola bar recipes, or anything you want! I'd love to hear from you and you'd help me out in the contest! If you're too shy to leave a comment, you can also head over to the Canadian Lentils Facebook Page and 'like' my post on their wall - and while you're there, you can also check out all the other delicious entries in the contest!
No-Bake Peanut Butter Lentil Granola Bars
Makes 10 granola bars
1/2 cup dried red lentils
1-3/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter, such as almond butter)
1/2 cup finely chopped dates (or other dried fruit, such as cranberries or raisins)
1/4 cup chopped almonds (or other nut, such as pecans or peanuts)
1 tablespoon honey (or other sweetener, such as agave or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pick through lentils to remove any debris, then place in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly in cold running water. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add 1 to 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the water has absorbed and lentils are cooked through. Transfer lentils to a bowl and mash with a fork (they may already be slightly mushy as red lentils don’t hold their shape as well when cooked). Let cool slightly.
Add oats, peanut butter, dates, almonds, honey, and vanilla to the bowl. Mix thoroughly until well combined (you may find it easier to use your hands). If you like sweeter granola bars, you may wish to taste the mixture and add more sweetener if desired.