Granola Glue?
May 31, 2015 8:52 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to make some puffed quinoa and almond "granola" bars, but recipes I'm seeing online use dates or nut butters for a binding agent. What else can I use?

I'm not a dried fruit fan, and would rather avoid bananas if possible. I don't mind nut butters in general, but I don't want it tasting of nothing but nuts. With a desire to avoid too much straight sugar, I'm finding most of the online recipes are not a good fit. Am I just too picky? I'm willing to keep them frozen if that would help. Thanks in advance
posted by gilsonal to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Egg whites as binder might work?
posted by permiechickie at 9:09 PM on May 31, 2015

Almond butter is almost certainly your best bet, as you're using almonds anyway. What else are you using? When you say you're not a dried fruit fan, do you mean in terms of using fruit as a binder (dates) or are you not going to include any fruit at all? Only mentioning this because judicious use of something like chopped dried apricots, or dried cranberries, would go a long way towards balancing the flavors and preventing "all this tastes like is almonds." Chocolate chips would do this too, although then you're getting more into cookie territory.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:17 PM on May 31, 2015

This is the dilemma of granola - it's basically healthy stuff bound together with unhealthy stuff (fat and/or sugar). Egg whites do work as a binder, but the resultant product is pale and bland and weirdly-textured. I suspect pulverized chia seeds in water might be similar. I think probably the best you can do might be a 50/50 combination of good, healthy binder (egg or chia-goo) with bad, caloric binder (nut/seed butter or butter/oil, plus something sweet/sticky).
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:19 PM on May 31, 2015

I understand that you don't like dried fruit, but have you actually had dates? Dates are an entirely different beast. Dates are to other dried fruits what sweet potatoes are to starchy tubers. Make sure you get whole medjool dates and not the dried crusty date bits in baggies in the raisin aisle. It's like night and day. Just want to make sure you're not basing your date bias on not liking craisins or something. Craisins are awful.

That said, you could probably use flax meal as a binder instead. Keep in mind that by subbing out a nut butter or dates for something like egg or flax meal, you're going to lose a lot of natural sweetness in the bar recipe. If you need to add sweetness from a sugar source, I'd be inclined to go with a bit of grade b maple syrup to add a distinctly not-like-the-rest-of-it flavor.
posted by phunniemee at 9:28 PM on May 31, 2015

Brown rice syrup. It works great in this type of recipe and is not too sweet.
posted by hitchi at 9:31 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Coconut oil. Once mixed and roasted off, store in the fridge. The melted coconut oil will re-solidify as long as you keep it cold.
posted by jbenben at 9:33 PM on May 31, 2015

I found a recipe online for some cereal bars (made from actual cereal, not the ones that are like cake) that had flour, some baking soda, an egg and such in it. I decided "looks like pancake mix to me" and just threw some pancake mix powder and water in there. Baked. Worked fine.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:54 PM on May 31, 2015

Response by poster: I have a strong dislike for dates, sadly. I've tried to grow fond of them, but have been unsuccessful. I do like dried cherries, but dried fruit in general doesn't excite me.

I'm actually not too worried about the health content of the binder, as I'm trying this as a part of my low carb-high fat diet. I tend to stay fuller and eat less calories when I eat foods higher in fat, so I'm thinking between the protein in the quinoa and the omega's in the nuts a granola bar would hold me over in those omg-so-hungry afternoon times.
posted by gilsonal at 10:32 PM on May 31, 2015

I make my own granola, and the egg white really does help bind everything together. So effective that you have to break up your cookie sheet-sized granola bar into the desired size of chunks.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:50 PM on May 31, 2015

Honey. Sunflower seed butter.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:12 AM on June 1, 2015

Hmmmm, here are some low-carb example recipes to use as starting points. Generally, almond butter has less nut flavor than peanut butter. Sunflower seed butter and cashew butter are even milder.

Grain Free Granola Bars Looks straightforward with a coconut/cocoa flavor.

Granola Bars No nut butters. Replace coconut milk powder with low carb protein powder if you don't have it, leave out xanthan if you don't have it though it may be helping with texture, sub the xylitol and stevia as needed with sweeteners you have, sub other ingredients as needed with more/less/other seeds/nuts, the flax is probably helping with holding together in place of part of an egg.

Grain Free Snack Bars Primal Palate recipes are always winners. You may need to sub out the sugar for a sugar substitute of your choice or leave it out for low carb. Just leave out the cranberries. This website has some other snack recipes that might work too like this Hemp Protein Snack Balls that uses Sun Butter from sunflower seeds though watch the carbs from the honey.
posted by RoadScholar at 5:11 AM on June 1, 2015

If you can go with a crunchier texture, expanding on julthumbscrew's suggestion of chia seeds: Flax seeds also work really well as a cracker binder, might work here. Blend some flax seeds up with a bit of water, mix with your body ingredients, pour out on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate, instant tasty crackers.

Moderating your intake of those tasty crackers, or making sure you have a lot of body ingredients in them, is good because flax contains copious amounts of flax and if you eat to much you will be... irregularly regular.
posted by straw at 6:51 AM on June 1, 2015

You could also use food-grade vegetable glycerine. It's a little sweet and it's used in commercial chewy granola bars. It's pretty easy to get online.
posted by answergrape at 7:58 AM on June 1, 2015

The Alton Brown recipe uses vegetable oil and something like 1/4 cup of real maple syrup (per something like 6-7 cups of oats).
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:13 AM on June 1, 2015

Not healthy but foolproof: melt a few marshmallows with a bit of oil/butter in the microwave and quickly mix it with your dry ingredients, compact & let cool. With practice you can get the right ratio for minimum marshmallows required to make'em stick without being too sweet.
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 2:20 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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