Tropical Chewy Granola Bars

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Returning home from such an epic holiday, sitting here at my desk in my apartment feeling a million miles away from anything tropical, there is a part of me that wants to say I’m getting “back to reality”.  But that would be inaccurate, as I believe that the island of Kauai was absolutely the realest place I’ve ever been. What do I mean by this? Well, I have never in my life been faced with more awe-inspiring nature, powerful energies, provocative weather, and life-challenging situations. It was the biggest dose of reality I could have gotten, anywhere.

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I think the thing that struck me as soon as we left the airport was how low-key the island seemed. No huge high-rise hotels, no chain restaurants, no four-lane highways. Everything was pretty quiet and chilled out. And since the single, main road that winds its way along the coast of the island never actually connects to itself, this has kept things rather simple and undeveloped. Over 90% of Kauai is inaccessible by car, so Kauai tends to attract nature lovers who appreciate a raw, untamed, untouched environment and a good hike.

The first week of our trip, we were staying on the north side of the island, which during the winter and spring seasons receives a lot of rain. So much in fact, that our plans and high hopes of hiking the Kalalau trail were dashed by flash floods and washed out footpaths. We eventually did the first section of the trek, but the river crossing was so dangerous that we strongly warned from Mother Nature to turn back. Rains were rather relentless and some days were safest spent on high ground and indoors. I have never experienced such powerful weather – it was clearly to be respected!

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We eventually found ourselves on the western side of the island trying to find some dry land and sunshine. Camping out on the beach was heavenly, until one night a sandstorm drove us out of our bliss and back in our cars for shelter.

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But this is beginning to sound a bit complain-y, while I was actually having a total blast. Whether I was being pummeled by life-threatening waves, unrelenting rain, sand storms, or burning sun, my time on Kauai made me feel very connected to the environment, and so very alive. I loved feeling so small, so vulnerable, and at the mercy of nature (except when it got a tad scary). It was a reality check in the best way. Life was put back into perspective again, and I remembered that I am a part of a world so much bigger and more powerful than I can even fathom. Every second of that 38-hour trip was worth every second of that life-affirming, life-connecting feeling.

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So, how do these granola bars tie into anything? You can imagine with the trekking and camping we did that there were a few energy bars consumed as they were the most convenient way of getting calories into us on the trail. We did find some rather high-vibe varieties, but I knew that as soon as I got back home I would make my own full of the delicious, tropical flavours. Mango, banana, coconut and macadamias were daily fare, and these form the base for my recipe. Finding the more unusual treats like noni, ice cream bean, soursop, Surinam cherry, breadfruit, and rambutan here in Copenhagen is slightly more challenging, so I stuck to relatively common dried foods you can all get your hands on, in paradise or otherwise.

These Tropical Chewy Granola Bars are a very versatile recipe and you can make several substitutions if you are missing some ingredients or aren’t into them. I used ripe bananas as the liquid binding agent, but if you don’t like bananas, replace them with ½ cup of applesauce. You could also use 2 eggs. Instead of the dried fruit I used, feel free to change it up: dried pineapple would be great, as would dates, cranberries, cherries, or raisins. Of course this will change the flavour a great deal, but if you want to adapt the recipe to the seasons and what is available, you most certainly can do that. Replace the buckwheat with oats if desired, the honey with maple syrup, the coconut oil with butter or ghee. And if macadamia nuts are unavailable, any nut will do – almonds, pecans, or cashews would be really good in these.

Even if you won’t be hitting a trail anytime soon, these granola bars will just as well on a spring picnic, biking around the city, or just an afternoon tea computer break. Because let’s face it: that’s about the only way I’ll be enjoying them for now. No complaints.

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As much it was nice to have a break from technology, I really did miss blogging and it feels good to be back in the swing of things. I have lots of good stuff up my sleeves for this season and I’m excited to share it with you all.

Lots of love from the un-tropics of Copenhagen,
Sarah B.

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74 comments

  1. Pingback: Coconut, Hazelnut and Cocoa Nib Muesli Bars | Sugar and Cinnamon
  2. Nancy jenkins

    It’s refreshing to see so many of you young people seeking truthful nutrition.
    Mother Nature does know best!
    Nancy

  3. Allie

    Thank you for this recipe Sarah. I’ve made at least 5 batches of these, using different ingredients each time. Canned peaches, pureed cheeries, pumpkin seeds, dried apples… delicious. Such a great base for whatever fruit you have on hand. My favourite breakfast right now!

    P.S. Kauai last year was hands down my favourite vacation.

  4. Sarah

    This is my first ever attempt at granola bars, they are in the oven right now and smell amaaazing.. can’t wait to try them! Thanks so much.

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  10. Alaina

    I substituted a couple of things based on what I had in the cupboard (agave nectar, almonds, kasha), tossed in a little golden flax just for fun, and even skipped the vanilla and dried bananas. Oh my goodness, were these still fantastic! Great recipe! Keep up the excellent work!

  11. Jacqueline

    These are absolutely delicious. I did not have macadamia nuts so used almonds instead, but the flavours are awesome. Thanks for posting :)

  12. Felicia

    I have searched a long time for a recipe like this and this is the first one i feel like i really wanna try. But do you have another option for the buckwheat?
    Because honestly i have no idea what it is and i don’t think we have it in Sweden

  13. john

    I don’t know if I should try to make the granola bars,, or sell everything and move to the Islands !!! I know what I want to do mmmm

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  15. Ilenia

    Thank you for this wonderful post. You made me dream of being right on that island. And you gave us a great recipe! Can’t wait to try it.

  16. genevieve

    wonderful recipe! i hiked the kalalau trail several years ago and what a mix of awe-inspiring and death-defying. nearly stuck on the way back because serious rainfall made the last pass incredibly scary. curiously enough, a canadian couple schooled in survival helped several of us make the crossing safely, hearts beating wild.

  17. Eva

    @Ine – I don’t know where you are but coconut oil is pretty cheap at Trader Joes
    - if you can afford the nuts/ dried fruit you can probably afford TJ’s coconut oil

    @Sarah B. – I made these with dried cherries, dates and coconut and I soaked the groats overnight before toasting (separate from other ingredients) in the oven. I’m not sure if that was necessary but I was worried about breaking teeth on the toasted groats. The recipe combo was delish but I would add a caveat to anyone subbing dates for the dried banana – reduce or omit the honey/syrup because mine were too sweet – more of a candy bar than a granola bar.

  18. Ine

    Hey!
    I’m a student and I really can’t afford to buy coconut oil. Is there any other oil I can use instead?
    Love ur blog ;)

  19. [email protected]

    I’m new to your site! Beautiful photos and great recipes! Definitely making these granola bars!

  20. Anita Yurtgirl

    Mmmm, this is a fantastic way to use up the excess bananas that we always seem to have in our fruitbowl at the end of the week!

    The photos are beautiful, and it’s made me want to disappear somewhere tropical for a few weeks! Stunning! :)

  21. Mira

    I loved Kauai, though I haven’t been there since an elementary school trip with my family. I would love to go back, since I remember it being absolutely gorgeous and natural, and such a unique environment. Your trip sounds like such an adventure, must have been such a thrilling experience – and your photographs are gorgeous. Oh, and the granola bars look delicious as well… I think I will make them and pretend that I am somewhere tropical :) Thanks for sharing!

  22. Jennifer

    Sarah, thanks so much for sharing. I soak buckwheat overnight, then add weird stuff (red palm oil, coconut oil, figs, cacao nibs, etc.). But it’s sometimes a bit much to pull together! The bars sound like a great way to still get all the whole foods, but in a handier form. I’m excited to try this.
    Love your story about Hawaii… I can only imagine it, cuz we’re not going there any time soon!

  23. Tui

    Hi, I’ve been lurking around your site for a while. Make your life changing bread every week as I can’t eat regular bread. Just. Love. It I Lived in the Far North Tropics of Australia for 20 years and your photos remind me of home. That blue flower that people are inquiring about we called the Jade plant. It’s a vine that grows through the rainforest. I’ve seen clusters of flowers trailing down over a metre long. You truly have a fantastic blog Take care

  24. Kate

    LOVE this recipe! I’m going to substitute the macadamias for sunflower seeds and pepitas because my son’s kindergarten has a nut-free policy so am hoping it’s as nice. But wow! What a fabulous recipe.

  25. Gill

    These look great!

    For measuring coconut oil, do you measure by the solid volume? I’ve found that when I measure it solid then melt it, the volume increases.

    • Heidi

      Kauai is one of the islands of the Hawaiian Islands, the last State acquired by the United States. It is an absolutely beautiful place…worth saving for a trip there!

  26. Laura

    I’m so very jealous of your trip!

    I’m going to give these bars a try this morning with what ingredients I have at home. Unfortunately there is no tropical in my house at the moment but I’m sure the bars will still taste awesome!

  27. Chiara

    Wonderful pics!!Thank you for sharing your impressions about this island. I’ll try your version of granola bar, hoping to find all the ingredients!

  28. Sasha

    What an island, what a trip, what a post! Thank you for sharing this. The pictures make me want to run away from the city and to keep running until I can no longer see skyscrapers or telephone poles. The words make me remember how small those skyscrapers and telephone poles “really” are.

    And that blue plant! So psychedelic and wild and beautiful.

  29. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

    Oh my goodness Sarah, your photos are beautiful and I loved your recap of the trip! Hawaii is a place I’ve dreamed of going all my life and I hope to make it there one day. I’d hike until my legs couldn’t carry me any further and take photos until my memory card couldn’t take it any more! As you described, I see it as a perfect place for not only learning to slow down, but also for self growth. Thanks for sharing your experience, and this recipe too. I have some hikes (although not quite as exotic as yours!) planned for the summer so I’m pinning these for later use!

  30. Brooke Cordray

    My husband I were lucky enough to me married on Kauai (North Shore, Lumahai Beach) and reading your post took me back to that special island. I am so glad you loved it there, it call you back. I also love your recipes and I can’t wait to make these for our upcoming trip. We make your life changing bread weekly, and my husband request your oatmeal banana pancakes EVERY WEEKEND! I joke that if I ever leave him it will be for you. :) Mahalo

  31. ellen kelley

    Oh, these look absolutely yummy. I will try them.
    I grew up on Oahu…way back when it was slow and lovely. You couldn’t pay me to live there now. Kauai was also a second home…way up above the canyon, close to Kalalau Valley. It was heaven.
    Thanks for the recipe.

  32. Jana

    faaaaaaaantastic recipe and such gorgeous pictures! the globetrotter in me is wondering what on earth this amazing blue blossom/flower is (do u have a name for me? can you eat it/drink it as a tea?)? I have never seen something similar (on my exotic escapes)…
    so happyyou had a great time! love+hugs from tulipland…

  33. Erin

    I have been searching for a fun new granola bar to help sustain my husband and I during our bike commutes. This one sounds perfect! I am so inspired by all of your recipes. I am sure this will be no different:) Thank you!

  34. Kitchenette Finds

    Loving the tropical flavours! I couldn’t get enough fresh pineapples, finger bananas or papayas when we were in Maui. Sometimes the dried stuff is better than the less than fresh options in the Northern latitudes.

  35. Emma

    Hi, do you mean buckwheat groats or something else? I get confused by the variety of buckwheat things in my local health food store (groats, puffs, flakes of different sizes etc)! Looks great & can’t wait to try!

  36. Sara

    Thank you! I’ll try it and let know :) Also thank you so much for this amazing post :) And all recipes and insiration here, I’m so happy I found this blog :)

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