Goji Sunflower Mesquite Energy Bars...and variations! (gluten free, vegan)


I made these energy bars to feed to my friends and family that are helped me move this weekend.  As it turned out, I didn't end up feeding these snacks to them at all, and instead I still have a bunch in my fridge, which is okay, because I am really pleased with how they turned out!   They are chewy, not too sweet, and make a great little snack.   I really like them pulled out of the refrigerator, but they are also great room temperature.  The mesquite flour (my new favorite ingredient) adds a delicious sweet and spicy flavor that combines well with the tartness of the goji berries!  Plus, they are full of vitamin C - goji berries, mesquite flower, and vitamin C flour combine to provide a whole lot of immunity boosting nutrition.

Next time I think I will add more sunflower seeds for extra crunch, and a scoop or two of rice protein powder to increase the protein content and make these bars lower glycemic.  Using a crunchy crisped rice cereal would add some great texture. As I brainstormed on this recipe, I think there are lots of options for making variations, see some of my ideas below.  I plan on making lots of tweaks and variations of this recipe, so stay tuned...


yield: 16 approx. 1"x4" bars

3 c gluten free puffed or crisped cereal (I used puffed millet, feel free to try using puffed amaranth, puffed or crisped rice, any other puffed/crispy cereal, like Perky's Nutty Flax or Nutty Rice)
3 T chia seed
1/2 c sunflower seeds, toasted (or other seed/chopped nut)
3 T goji berries, lightly chopped (or other dried fruit)
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 c + 3 T brown rice syrup
1 T sunflower oil (or other oil)
3 T mesquite flour
optional, for extra vitamins!: 1/4 tsp vitamin C crystals 
  1. Place cereal in a large bowl.
  2. Warm brown rice syrup and sunflower oil together over low heat, whisking until mixed.  Remove from heat. NOTE: if using flax oil, warm brown rice syrup alone, remove from, then stir in flax oil.  Flax oil should never be directly heated.
  3. Quickly add mesquite flour, salt, vitamin C crystals, and any additional spices to warm syrup/oil mixture, and stir until well combined.  Work quickly, mixture coats cereal and other ingredients best when still warm.
  4. Pour warm mixture over cereal, and stir a few times to coat cereal.  Add goji berries, chia seeds, toasted and sunflower seeds in batches, and continue stirring until evenly mixed.
  5. Transfer cereal mixture into prepared 8x8 or 9x9 pan.  Spread evenly across surface of pan, then press mixture firmly until smooth and even.
  6. Place in refrigerator to chill, for 1-2 hours.  Slice into bars of desired size.  
  7. Wrap bars tightly or transfer to airtight container.  Stores best in the refrigerator.
Approximate nutritional information/bar (yield 16 bars): 100 cal, 3.5 g fat, 14 g carb, 8 g sugar, 1.5 g fiber, 2 g protein
 Don't eat nuts or seeds?  Can't eat fruit?  Require a higher protein bar?  Want to mix up the flavors?  Great!  Feel free to swap out ingredients to fit your tastes, desires, and restrictions. Here's a few ideas to get you going!  I'd love to hear how you make this recipe your own.
  • pumpkin seeds, currants, pumpkin seed oil, ginger
  • dates, shredded coconut, coconut oil
  • pecans, dried cranberries, cinnamon
  • almonds, dried blueberries
  • cashews, coconut, coconut oil
  • hemp seeds, hemp oil, dried apricots
  • flax seed, flax oil, dried apple, cinnamon
  • minced figs, orange zest, walnuts
  • omit mesquite flour, and add cashews, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and cardamom
  • Alternate your sweeteners, and use agave, honey, maple syrup or molasses as your body can tolerate.  NOTE: a runnier sweetener like maple syrup may require different quantities than a thicker one like brown rice syrup.
  • lower fat: omit oil, add additional 1 T of rice syrup
  • high fiber: add rice bran, and/or extra flax or chia.  Use ground flax for easiest assimilation.
  • lower carb/sugar: substitute additional nuts/seeds for a portion of dried cereal and either all or some of the dried fruit.  Omit or use less mesquite flour (5 g sugar/tablespoon). 
  • lower GI: follow suggestions for lower carb/sugar.  Substitute all or a portion of the brown rice syrup with agave nectar, which has a lower glycemic index.
  • higher protein: Add more nuts/seeds in place of fruit/cereal.  Add protein powder (rice, hemp, soy, etc) for all or some of the mesquite flour.  For added flavor, include additional spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, or allspice.