This palm oil free vegan bars recipe requires a healthy mix of nuts, dried fruits, oats, and pure maple syrup. Mix, bake, cool, and cut. That’s all you need to do! There are dozens of snack bars on grocery store shelves. However, when you read the labels, you’ll find many granola, protein, and snack type bars contain palm oil.
Sometimes you’ll see Palm Oil or Palm Kernel Oil on the label. Other times it will be hiding in derivatives such as Glycerin, Glycerine, Vegetable Glycerin, and Tocopherols.
In addition, Natural Flavors in granola bars often are sourced from palm oil. We know one nature-promoting and healthy-seeming brand of bars that has Glycerin from Palm Oil making up their Natural Flavors.
Because it was in trace amounts, the Glycerin was able to hide in the general term: Natural Flavors.
Baking at Home
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I’ve been spending a lot more time in the kitchen and have been learning to bake more things since my son can’t eat anything with palm oil. He has a palm oil allergy / intolerance. Because of this, we bake all of our desserts from scratch. We buy less processed foods.
Overall, we work very hard to not buy anything with palm oil because of the environmental concerns and to be in solidarity with my son.
I like making this palm oil free vegan bars recipe because it’s filled with protein and fiber. They aren’t processed. Using gluten free oats makes them GF as well. Everyone in my family can eat them.
Many vegan products include palm oil. Many palm oil free products aren’t vegan.
Here we combine the best of both in our palm oil free vegan bars.
Vegan Bar Recipe
I am a learning-as-I-go baker, and these bars are easy to make. I like making homemade vegan protein bars in batches and freezing them so we always have an easy breakfast, snack, or something filled with protein ready to grab and go.
They are forgiving to make. It’s really helpful to have a food processor. I use a Vitamix to make these and it reduces prep time over using a blender.
Vegan Bar Ingredients
- ½ cup dates
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (You can use honey if you are vegetarian but not vegan.)
- ½ cup oats
- ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries
- ½ cup almonds halves
- ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- Pinch of nutmeg powder – a little goes a long ways
- Pinch of cinnamon
See below for substitution ideas. Note: You can use any combination of nuts.
How to Make Vegan Bars
- Preheat the oven at 275 degrees F and grease a small baking dish (9 x 9 works well) with the avocado oil.
- Pulse nuts so they are chopped but not gritty. Do this in short intervals so they aren’t too fine. Remove and set aside.
- Process dates and maple syrup in a food processor until the mixture is thick and paste-like.
- Transfer mixture into a bowl and add the nuts and all remaining ingredients to it.
- Mix everything until nicely combined.
- Transfer the granola mixture into the baking pan, flattening so it’s somewhat even.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Check for doneness after 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and let it cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Cut in small squares or into bars and enjoy!
Tips and Substitutions
Like with many homemade nutrition bars, you can be flexible with ingredients. You’ll also want to be sure whatever ingredients you choose are palm oil free.
This vegan bars recipe requires a healthy mix of nuts, dried fruits, oats, and maple syrup. Nuts are a staple in our pantry. They are easy to grab when we feel like we want to eat something but don’t know what to grab. Use any nuts you want in this recipe.
Nuts are also one of our favorite snacks without palm oil. Nuts are a rich source of vitamin E, magnesium, healthy fats, and fiber. They also contain proteins, which help a great deal in satiation.
When choosing nuts, the only additional ingredient should be salt. You can also choose unsalted. There shouldn’t be additional ingredients. If you don’t like or don’t have almonds, pistachios, and walnuts at home, you can substitute other nuts. You can also use peanuts.
You can pulse them in a food processor rather than chopping them yourself. Do this before you add the dates. You want to be sure to chop them without grinding them too fine. Pulse them and remove them.
Pure Maple Syrup
Buy and use pure maple syrup which will not include added ingredients.
Also feel free to add seeds such as organic pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or chia seeds. I love putting chia seeds in these vegan bars as well as adding them to homemade granola. Kids don’t see them or taste them but their nutritional value is there.
Sometimes with dried fruit, manufacturers add palm oil to increase shelf life. Be sure the dried fruit you use only contains that fruit. You can use raisins, dried apricots, cranberries and more. Adding figs will also be tasty though they may thicken the bars if you add too many.
You can add coconut flakes as well. The dates and the other fruit make these bars a bit chewy while the nuts provide the crunch.
In a pinch, I’ve cut up a fresh apple in small pieces and used that as well. It worked fine. I wouldn’t use fruits with too much juice.
Be sure to buy gluten free oats if you want to make a gluten free vegan protein bar. While oats by nature are gluten free, they are typically processed in facilities that manufacture gluten-containing foods. So if you avoid trace gluten or “may contain” wheat, etc., make these with gluten free oats.
We’ve had good luck with McCormick spices. They haven’t made my son react; he reacts to even trace amounts of palm oil.
For cinnamon, we only use Red Ape Cinnamon because they have certified it Palm Oil Free from the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark Programme. You can buy it on their website or on Amazon. This cinnamon is amazing!
You can omit the cinnamon and/or the nutmeg if you don’t have them or if you don’t like the taste. These spices add to the flavor of the bars but you won’t miss them if you don’t use them. You can also substitute with pumpkin pie spice.
While many baked goods and desserts contain palm oil, palm oil derivatives, and/or shortening from palm oil, this vegan bar recipe uses a light coating of avocado oil to coat the pan.
You can also substitute with avocado oil or vegetable oil such as canola oil. In addition, you can use coconut oil but it will have a stronger flavor.
Storing Vegan Bars
It’s easy to double the recipe and make a double batch for convenient indulging later on.
After cooling and cutting the bars, seal them in freezer bags or containers. I’m looking into and considering getting a vacuum sealer to make these in bulk and freeze them without worrying about freezer burn. It will be a way to store them air-tight for longer. I can see myself using it to batch cook other foods as well and also to save leftover fruits and vegetables for later use.
Homemade Vegan Bars
The best thing about making homemade bars is you know you are using real ingredients. While many companies nowadays are being more transparent and using real ingredients — and promoting them, like RXBAR and Larabar — the vast majority contain chemicals and palm oil. Choose bars with the least amount of ingredients.
You should recognize all of the ingredient names. To paraphrase Larabar, the companies should use food to make food. See our list of granola bars without palm oil.
No matter the branding and advertising, it’s important to know snack bars are not created equally. Baking at home and making homemade bars is a way to use healthy, real ingredients. In this way, you won’t worry about them being filled with added sugar, questionable nutritional value, and being processed.
Using this vegan bars recipe has also been a way to involve my kids in the kitchen. Together, we make desserts without palm oil from scratch. We make pancakes and waffles from scratch for breakfast without palm oil. You can enjoy these vegan bars for breakfast or pack them in your child’s lunch. Learn how to make homemade granola with this granola recipe.
Choosing Palm Oil Free
If you can’t make bars at home, choose Palm Oil Free certified products. This is labeling by a third-party qualifying agency. It’s the same idea as a product with Vegan labeling and/or Gluten Free labeling. It guarantees the product is 100% palm oil free.
Orangutan Alliance and the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark (POFCAP) are two organizations which certify products in the United States and across the world.
Palm Oil Free Vegan Bars Recipe
Many vegan foods aren’t palm oil free. A big reason for this is manufacturers use palm oil to create mouthfeel. They use palm oil to replace animal products in a lot of foods. As an example, shortening is typically vegan; however, it contains palm oil. To compare, consider butter. Real butter is not vegan but it’s palm oil free.
Vegan and palm oil free foods help minimize the impact on the earth. The problem with palm oil that many vegans may not realize is that developers destroy rainforests to make room for palm oil production. They deforest areas and clear them to plant palm oil plantations. This means the wildlife living in the rainforests not longer have a habitat. Deforestation is one of the issues affecting the environment across the globe.
These palm oil free vegan granola bars are fast and easy to make, filling, and packed with nutrients.
We do our best to eat healthy foods. Rather than surfing grocery store shelves for the “healthiest kind” of palm oil free bars, it’s often easier to buy healthy ingredients to prepare these super easy, delicious, and natural bars instead.
- Food processor or blender
- Knife, Spoons
- Baking tray (8x8 preferred)
- ½ cup dates pitted and roughly chopped
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup almonds sliced or roughly chopped
- ¼ cup walnuts roughly chopped
- ¼ cup pistachios roughly chopped
- ½ cup oats
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil or canola oil
- pinch of nutmeg powder
- pinch of cinnamon powder
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease a small baking dish with avocado oil.
- Pulse nuts in food processor. Pour them into a bowl and set aside.
- Process dates and maple syrup the food processor until the mixture is thick and paste-like in consistency.
- Transfer mixture into a bowl, and add all the remaining ingredients to it, including the nuts.
- Mix everything well until nicely combined.
- Transfer granola mixture to baking pan. Flatten so it's somewhat even.
- Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, cool it to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight.
- Cut it into small squares or bars and enjoy!
- You can substitute other nuts, seeds (chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.) and even peanuts.
- It's best to pulse the nuts in the food processor but don't make them too fine.
- Add dried apricots, cranberries, coconut flakes, etc.
- In a pinch, you can cut up a fresh apple in small pieces.
- You can use olive oil or coconut oil but it will have a stronger taste.