Vegan, Gluten-free Granola Bars
Every year, a day before the Hindu month of Shravan, Mrs. B takes the day off, no matter what (she takes a lot of other days off as well, but that apart). On this day, I imagine, like most people of her fisher folk community, she indulges in a spread of the choicest non vegetarian fare that she wouldn’t spend on ordinarily, drinks (almost) to the point of falling unconscious in the gutters (that’s where the name Gatari comes from, apparently; “gataar” means “gutter” in Marathi). I can’t imagine Mrs. B getting drunk—she’s quite the practical kind. Not that a day of reckless abandon would bring her any harm—it’d probably do her a lot of good, considering the pain she bottles up in her heart every day.
During Shraavan, most non-vegetarians give up their favorite foods and go on what I think of as a detox diet. Since Shraavan is the month of heavy rains and rough seas, one’s metabolism is sluggish and the seas are dangerous. Also, marine life goes into breeding, and it is believed that not eating seafood during this period will ensure a greater catch for the coming months. Whatever the reason, scientific or otherwise, I think it is a good excuse to bring in a little period of detoxification and penance. And I don’t mean only food-wise.
I have been hooked on to food forums on social media—there’s just so much to learn! Cooking techniques, food cultures, histories, food photography—it’s like an endless workshop that you don’t want to walk out of. I’ve just been doing my bare-minimum to catch the deadlines and the parking myself in these forums all day. (Apart from, you know, being mum-wife-cook.) What has been suffering, however, is stuff that I need to do for myself—my writing, my diet and exercise routine, my time for myself (I’ve had this urge to go back to some therapeutic block printing but I’ve just not got down to it yet) and stuff like that. Shopping, even (for non- food photography props stuff)! So, starting tomorrow, the first day of Shraavan, I am going to make a humble and sincere effort to give up on indulgences of all kind for a month. No non-vegetarian/fried/sweet food so that I am in greater control of my body. No active social media presence so I get to focus on my writing and other activities. I will continue to write here, though—it’s the one place that gives me strength to get through the week!
And with that noble thought in mind (can you see my shining, shimmering halo?) I’ll leave you with a recipe for these fantastic granola bars. I made them last week when I realized I had run out of my chikki stash and not being a chocolate person, I really needed something for when my sugar levels drop. All diabetics must always have something sweet on them. I had a bit of a scare last week when I was busy supervising some electrical work being done in the house and almost skipped two meals. Once the workers left the house, I felt so dizzy, I almost blacked out—had to eat copious amount of sugar to feel in control again. Anyway. Point is, doesn’t hurt to keep something sweet readily available, just in case. This is simple to make, and Avanee loved it too, so it should be a great snack or what they call “energy food” option for kids as well. I wanted to keep the fat to a bare minimum so I added rice bran oil instead of butter, and I am mighty pleased with the results. Here’s the recipe:
Vegan, Gluten-free Granola Bars
- 2 cups quick cooking oats
- 2 cups mixed dried fruit and nuts (I used a combination of chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, chopped dried apricots, raisins, and dried blueberries)
- 2 tbsp. dessicated coconut
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup rice bran (or any other neutral) oil
- 8 tbsp. golden syrup (or molasses or honey or a single-thread sugar syrup or a combination of these)
- 2 tbsp. liquid glucose (optional; if you don’t have this, just add a little extra sweetener. The liquid glucose helps to make the granola bar crunchy)
***Note: Apparently a lot of oats come adulterated and are not entirely gluten-free. Please make sure you buy the gluten-free oats if you are gluten-intolerant.
- Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine using a spatula.
- Grease and line a baking sheet (I used a 9*13 inch rectangular sheet) with parchment.
- Press the granola mixture onto the sheet using a silicone spatula or flat spoon to even it out.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (middle rack) at 180 degrees centigrade for about 25 to 30 minutes or until evenly browned.
- The mixture will still be soft when just of the oven. Using a knife, carve out the squares or rectangles that you want at this stage but don’t try to remove them from the sheet. Allow to cool completely. Cutting out the shapes at this stage will make removing them easier when they’re hard and cool.
- Store in an airtight jar or box.