Since my original Fruit & Nut Bar recipe debuted, I’ve had many readers and FB fans asking if it’s possible to make a nut-free version of these deliciously popular bars. The answer in short is … “YES!”
And whether you’re nut-free or not, these bars are absolutely scrumptious! Made with pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds) and sunflower seeds, they’re chock-full of wholesome nutrient-dense goodness!
Please note: Although coconut is technically a fruit and not a nut, the FDA opted to classify coconut as a nut, which has resulted in much confusion. However, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “while allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, they are very rare. Most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. However, if you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist/physician before adding coconut to your diet.” For details, I recommend reading this article at OneSpotAllergy.com.
- 1/3 cup pure honey (I prefer sage honey due to its mild flavor)
- 2 tbsp coconut flour (or ground flaxseed)
- 1 tbsp *all-natural sunflower seed butter
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or omit coconut and replace with 1/4 cup additional pepitas and 1/4 cup additional chopped dried fruit)
- 1 cup unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped dried organic fruit (see **note below)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Trim parchment paper to line an 8×8-inch baking dish, leaving parchment paper to hang over two sides of the dish.
- In a large bowl, add the honey, coconut flour (or ground flaxseed), *all-natural sunflower seed butter and salt. Use a spoon to stir until well combined.
- Measure 1 cup of coconut flakes. Place coconut flakes on the cutting board and coarse-chop. Add chopped coconut flakes to honey mixture. (Coconut Substitution Option: Omit coconut and replace with 1/4 cup additional pepitas and 1/4 cup additional chopped dried fruit).
- Next, coarse-chop any combination of dried fruit you choose and then measure out 1/2 cup. Add the chopped dried fruit to the honey mixture.
- Finally, add the pepitas and sunflower seeds.
- Using a spoon, mix ingredients together making sure they are thoroughly combined.
- Place the bar mixture into the parchment-lined baking dish. Fold overlapping flaps down and evenly press the top of the bar mixture firmly to pack-in the ingredients so they hold together better after baking. Then, peel back the parchments flaps from top of bars. (Do not trim, as the flaps make it easier to remove the bars after baking.)
- Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove from oven and allow to completely cool on stovetop for approximately one hour (or until bottom of baking dish is room temp).
- Place in fridge to continue cooling. (Do not freeze as it makes it impossible to cut the bars without them crumbling.) Once cold, remove dish from refrigerator. Then, run a knife along the two edges without parchment. Using the parchment paper ends, lift the bars from the baking dish and place on a cutting board.
- Cut into 8 bars and individually wrap and store in the fridge or freezer. Then you can easily take out what you need and place directly into your child’s lunchbox (or yours) – no need to thaw. However, for best results, bars should be kept cold so they do not become over-sticky. Simply include an ice pack, if placing them in a lunchbox, or taking them on the go.
Please note: Although coconut is technically a fruit and not a nut, the FDA opted to classify coconut as a tree nut. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, "while allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, they are relatively rare. Most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. However, if you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist/physician before adding coconut to your diet."
*You can use any all-natural sunflower seed butter you choose, just be sure it’s simply ground sunflower seeds without additives for best results and nutrition.
*Most dried fruits are treated with sulfur dioxide, so if you wish to avoid this preservative, be sure to purchase unsulfured organic dried fruits, or conventional dried fruits specifically labeled as sulfur dioxide free.
I am so excited because I have all of these ingredients on hand. I am going to make some of these tomorrow…hooray! Thanks for the recipe Kelly! Love, Lisa~
Hi, Lisa! Thanks so much for your sweet note! I hope you enjoy these! We really love the nut-version, but if you can’t have nuts then these are definitely the way to go! 🙂 Blessings, Kelly
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
Sharing on FB :)!
Thanks, dear friend! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
Wow these look great AND they’re also low oxalate!
Very true! Thanks, Sonia! Hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
miz gee says
Hi Kelly, I was wondering… Is it really necessary to bake this recipe? From the ingredients it seems perfectly edible unbaked. Does the baking help it keep it’s bar form?
Hi, Miz. Baking helps to “set” the ingredients so the bars stay together well and have a nice texture. But you could most certainly not bake them and freeze them, thereby retaining the benefits of using raw ingredients. But I do want to point out that the taste and the texture (as well as the sticky factor as they defrost) will be different. Hope this helps! Lots of blessings, Kelly 🙂
Kirsten McCulloch says
Yum, they look delicious 🙂 It’s so great to be able to send something like this to school for morning tea – nut free but still lots of protein and goodness to keep them going till lunch.
A question – could you substitute tahini for sunflower butter?
Hi, Kristen! Thanks for your kind words! And great point about nut-free for school since so many schools are banning nuts from the campus due to severe allergies. I’ve never tried it with tahini. The purpose of the sunflower butter is that it helps to bind with the honey to keep the honey from going to the bottom of the pan during the baking process. So you’d be doing a little experiment here if you swap ingredients. Happy back-to-school! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
Kirsten McCulloch says
Well, I’ve got all the ingredients if I try it with tahini, so I’ll go ahead and try it and let you know 🙂
sounds great! can’t wait to hear back on the results 🙂
It isn’t nut free if it has coconut in it!!! Coconut is a tree nut!!!! I am allergic to all tree nuts!
Hi, Carla. Thank you for your note! I appreciate you taking the time to write, as I certainly want to ensure that each recipe is labeled appropriately and contains any important information to alert readers to any potential allergens. So thank you again!
Technically speaking, coconut is not a tree nut, but is in fact a fruit. I did some research to double-check this with several noted allergy networks and allergy research institutes, as I certainly do not want to mislabel any recipe.
What I discovered while researching the tree nut-coconut allergy controversy was very interesting.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI): “Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the FDA elected to recognize coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, they are relatively rare. Most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. However, if you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet.”
The ACAAI also states: “There is conflicting information on whether or not coconut must be avoided by tree nut allergic individuals. Coconut is not a tree nut. However, in October 2006, the FDA began to define coconut as a tree nut. There are a small number of documented cases of allergic reactions to coconut. However, most occurred in individuals who were not allergic to other tree nuts. Thus, it is possible to be allergic to coconut, although coconut does not cross-react with tree nuts. It is important to discuss this issue with your allergist/immunologist who can instruct you on whether or not you need to avoid coconut if you are tree nut allergic.”
According to The Food Allergy Initiative, “allergic reactions to nuts are caused by the proteins found in specific tree nuts. Although not fully understood, coconuts contain similar proteins that may cause a reaction in some individuals with tree nut allergies.”
Therefore, I’ve decided to include a “note of caution” in this recipe, based on reading over the information on these, as well as other allergy research sites. In my note, I’ve recommended that individuals speak with their physicians about whether coconut can be safely consumed, as per ACAAI recommendations. In addition, I’ve also provided recommendations for coconut-free substitutions, so individuals with coconut allergies can still enjoy these wonderful bars, unless other allergies prohibit the recommended substitutions.
Speaking of which, another interesting fact I discovered while researching this topic is that some individuals who have tree nut allergies also have allergies to seeds as well (particularly sesame seeds). As in the case of coconut, sesame seeds are not a tree nut, but they can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals with tree nut allergies. The Food Allergy Initiative states (with regard to sesame seeds causing reactions for some individuals with tree nut allergies), “When the body mistakes certain proteins that are similar to other proteins in foods, it is called cross-reactivity. The immune system confuses proteins that are similar in structure, which can cause an allergic reaction.”
Thanks again for your comment! It has most certainly led to some very enlightening discoveries that I hope will truly help others who have nut allergies as they discuss with their physicians the possibility of cross-reactivity with coconut and other foods, such as sesame seeds.
So again – just as I noted in this recipe about sulfites in dried fruits for those with sulfite sensitivities, I have placed a “note of caution” for those with tree nut allergies to speak with their personal physicians/allergists about the whether they should avoid coconut and other potential cross-reactive foods.
Many blessings, Kelly 🙂
Kirsten McCulloch says
Wow, how interesting. I don’t know how they are classified in Australia, but I do know that my kid’s nut-free school is fine with coconut (and my daughter has a child in her class who has an anaphylactic reaction to some nuts, but not coconut – not all tree nuts though either I *think*).
Hi, Kristen. Based on all the research I read over tonight, coconut allergy seems to be well documented as a rare allergy. However, I did have a reader comment on this post today that she is both tree nut and coconut allergic. (Thus my interest in reading through the research on this, particularly since the FDA here opted to classify coconut as a tree nut, although botanically speaking it is not a nut.) I also found some allergy sites remarking about the possibility of a cross-reactive issue going on, where similarities in proteins cause the body to react as if it’s the actual food allergen. All very interesting stuff indeed. The human body is truly a miracle of God’s creation. Speaking of Australia, here’s what your researchers had to say about coconut allergies, if you’d like to read what I found from one of your leading allergy organizations: http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/coconut-allergy Blessings to you, Kelly 🙂
Richella Parham says
I LOVE Kind bars, so I’m so happy to get this recipe! Thank you for sharing it! 🙂
My pleasure to share it. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a kind note, Richella! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
I am getting ready to make these and the other “kind” bars and I was wondering why the bars list “crispy rice” in the ingredient list but it’s not in any of the recipes? Could I substitute the “crispy rice” for the coconut? Hubby really dislikes coconut. 🙁
Thanks for any help! 🙂
Hi, Tracey. Rice is a grain, so since I wanted to create a grain-free recipe, it obviously had to go :). In addition, cereal rice is a highly refined food and is not recommended for those following a real food lifestyle (http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry). However, with that said. I do believe the crispy rice, should you opt to use it, would work just fine as a substitute for coconut in this recipe. I can understand about not liking coconut – my youngest doesn’t either. So what I do is use ground flax seed and additional seeds and dried fruit, as outlined in the recipe as a coconut-free option. Lots of blessings to you, Kelly 🙂
Rice is a grain? Like wheat and oats? I always considered it closer to a grass but maybe that’s just wild rice? We have been very blessed with no food allergies and so we only have to limit those things we don’t like 🙂
I actually found a crispy brown rice cereal at Sprouts and it was 1 aisle over from the kind bars so that led to the question…obviously Rice Krispies are out 😉
I’ll try the flax seed first (since I have some sitting in the fridge) and then see if I need to add in the “crispy rice”. Hubby can be a bit particular about “his bars” but they are so stinkin expensive that I’m having a hard time justifying the cost even when I get them for less than a dollar through Amazon!
Thanks for the Weston Price link…very interesting info!
My pleasure to help, Tracey! And by the way, no one here is the “food police.” 🙂 I’m all about providing info and encouraging people to make their own decisions. My motto is “make small steps forward.” Not everyone needs to be grain-free for sure, it really is a matter of your personal health and also what’s do-able within the scope of life – I am a huge proponent of balance. If people stress themselves out over every little thing they eat, that stress has the potential to build and cause just about as much damage to their health as eating unhealthy. And most important, I would never want anyone to be tempted to put their trust in food (make it an idol), rather than God for their health. Hope you and your hubby enjoy these! Lots of blessings to you, Kelly 🙂
Oh your reply is so refreshing!! It is indeed all about balance. Thank you! 🙂
🙂 you are very welcome!
Thank you – the nut free version is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Have you tried doing these in a dehydrator rather than an oven? I’ll try to do a batch this weekend, some of which I’ll put in the dehydrator.
Hi, Nina. I haven’t tried that – but what an EXCELLENT idea! Let me know how it turns out so I can share … Thank yoU! Lots of blessings, Kelly 🙂
This looks delicious! Any replacement for honey or other sweetener? I cannot have the sugar. Maybe water or coconut milk with extra flax? Thanks!
Hi, Chris. Hmm, this is going to take some experimenting for you to be able to get these bars to hold together correctly, as the honey isn’t just used as a sweetening agent in this recipe, but also as a binder. It may be possible to use coconut milk or coconut cream, and omit the baking step and use a dehydrator instead, as my guess is the cream will go to the bottom of the pan during baking. But again, without experimenting and attempting different ingredients, measurements and techniques, it’s hard to say. If you do come up with a sweetener-free version, I’d love to hear about it! Thank you and blessings, Kelly 🙂
I am planning on making these in a few days and am wondering if I should soak the seeds before making them? Thank you! <
Soaking and drying the seeds would certainly be the ideal. You can read an overview on soaking here: http://thenourishinghome.com/2012/03/how-to-soak-grains-for-optimal-nutrition/ I also include links to additional resources as well. Many blessings, Kelly 🙂
I made these today and they are fabulous! I didn’t have flaked coconut so I added a little extra of the others and also threw in 1.5 tbs of flaxseeds. The girls loved them!! I’m not sure if anyone else has commented on this, and most nut allergy people (we have a peanut allergy, but not tree nut) would know, but if anyone were to make these to send in a nut free classroom, they need to make sure that the sunflower and pumpkin seeds are allergen free. Meaning, they are not cross contaminated with peanuts and other tree nuts. Great recipe, thanks!
Great point, Emily! Cross-contamination is a huge issue for nut allergies as well as gluten sensitivities, so I appreciate you pointing this out! And so glad to hear you all enjoyed this recipe. Many Blessings, Kelly 🙂
I made these yesterday for my daughter. they came out delishes!! I followed the recipe except reducing the coconut flakes to 2/3 cup and adding 1/3 cup of dried fruit. the only issue I had was, the mix that came out before adding the seeds and fruit was so solid and lumpy, I couldn’t incorporate the seeds and fruit well into it. the end result came out, as I said, very tasty but not something I could cut. some clusters and a lot of loos seeds around. How can I fix this? I would love to hear your suggestion as I would like to continue making these. they are great!!
Hi, Noa. It does take a lot of effort to get the sticky honey mixture to throughly coat the seeds well and if you over-freeze the bars, they will crumble when you cut them, so they need to be very cold, but not frozen. As far as the substitutions, it sounds like you are adding an additional 1/3 cup of dried fruit in addition to the 1/2 cup already called for in the recipe? That may be an issue because the bars need the right balance of fruits to seeds/nuts. So you may just want to try these again reducing the chopped coconut flake, but not adding the extra dried fruit. This will make the bars chewier and be easier for you to incorporate the ingredients. It’s also important to measure the ingredients as called for and chop as noted. I know it sounds so exacting, but again, the mixture needs to have the right balance of seeds/nuts to fruit and honey mixture. I hope this helps. 🙂 Blessings, Kelly
Hi. Can I use roasted soybutter instead of sunflower butter?
Yes, I’m sure you could. But I have to advise that you take a look into soy. I don’t use or recommend it as I personally have experienced ill-effects to my health from soy. Here’s a little info to get your started researching this for yourself. Blessings to you! 🙂
Hi, Jessica. Yes, I’m sure you could. But I have to advise that you take a look into soy. I don’t use or recommend it as I personally have experienced ill-effects to my health from soy. Here’s a little info to get your started researching this for yourself. No pressure, I just always want to encourage people to research and come to their own conclusions. Blessings to you! 🙂
Would you mind sharing more about your personal experience with soy?
It’s a little personal, but let’s just say my hormones were completely thrown out of synch and I had chronic anemia. I was a vegetarian eating soy-based foods for 14 years and by year 14 my body went into complete breakdown mode. After removing soy completely, and beginning the shift toward the real food lifestyle (reintroducing meat in the form of bone broth), my chronic anemia disappeared leaving my doctor astounded, and my hormone levels became normal again allowing me to conceive. I definitely am not a proponent of processed soy for my own personal experiences with its negative impact on my health as well as all the compelling research that warns against it, which is why I really encourage people to do the research. Hope this helps. Blessings, Kelly 🙂
Thanks for sharing your personal story. I am allergic to peanut butter, so when I found “WOW Soybutter” (a Canadian non-GMO soy butter spread), I was so excited. It is delicious and I can finally have something like a peanut butter sandwich. I do not use this spread as my main source of protein, but as a supplement, at times, and as lunch or a snack before bed time. I do eat meat, beans and love your bone broth idea.
I glad that you are better and helping so many mom’s like myself.
God bless you,
My pleasure, Jessica. Occasional soy shouldn’t be an issue. And if it does cause any problems, another great choice is almond butter or sunflower seed butter, both are delicious! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
I LOVE this recipe. I wanted to let you know I used Tahini butter because I love sesame, and they turned out perfect! I also start with this Nut free version and added raw pistachios, and dried apricots and cranberries. I coarse-chop them together in my Magic Bullet (the pistachios or any soft nut will help the fruit to chop evenly.) This is my go-to recipe for snack food! I don’t even freeze them because they go so fast! Thanks for sharing!
Hi, Amie. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a kind note and for your great idea of using tahini butter. That sounds so delicious! Blessings, Kelly 🙂
These look fantastic!
Can I use something else instead of sunflower butter I can’t find it here in Australia!
Hi, Nicole. Are you nut-free? If you are mot nut free, you might want to check out my other recipes here: http://thenourishinghome.com/2013/08/fruit-nut-grain-free-bars/ If you are nut-free, you could try using tahini or any other seed butter. Or making your own sunflower seed butter by grinding sunflower seeds in a food processor. I hope this helps! 🙂