Vanilla & Toasted Coconut Bars (and food for traveling)

 

I am so excited to share my latest recipe with you: Vanilla & Toasted Coconut Bars!

They are really simple to make, and so satisfying. They’re also very nutrient dense, which makes me feel good.

I used lightly toasted coconut in the ones above, but you could add other ingredients to the base, or even change the base. For instance, we also made a mock-peanut variation by substituting SunButter for the almond butter. I’ll include both variations we’ve made so far in the recipe (below).

 

These packaged snacks are the kind of food we take in our travel-on bag on the airplane. In fact, this food was literally in the air last week with my husband, who went to Chicago for a book publishing conference.

When our family is traveling we like to maintain the kind of diet we eat at home. We don’t want to be eating lots of high carb, high sugar, highly processed gluten-free foods. We like to snack on mostly fruit, nuts and seeds like we do at home.

Do you like these bars and trail mix? We love them. The coconut is our favorite flavor of Larabar (made in Boulder), but I recently discovered the Nude Food brand, and I adore them. They aren’t as sweet as Larabars, which I appreciate. Dates are more like the third ingredient in Nude Food bars (and in the bar recipe I’m sharing) as opposed to the first ingredient in Larabars.

Woodstock trail mix is also really good. I don’t know if you’re allowed to bring homemade bars and trail mix on the airplane—I’ve never tried. Getting ready to fly is hard work, so I prefer just picking these up at my local health food store.

 

 

Vanilla & Toasted Coconut Bars

(plus a mock-peanut variation)

Toast 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut at 350 degrees, stirring every few minutes until golden colored. Set aside.

To make the base:
Add to the food processor:
1/2 cup melted coconut cream concentrate (from Tropical Traditions)
NOTE: I think this coconut butter would also work, but I haven’t tested it yet.
1/2 cup soft pitted medjool dates
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon vanilla stevia (to your taste)

Puree. You may need a couple more tablespoons of water, depending on how dry your nut butter is. Add extra water slowly so your base doesn’t become thin. You want it to look like thick nut butter, as seen above.

Combine the shredded coconut and the base.

Using a flexible spatula (or your hands), press the mixture into a square dish lined with unbleached parchment paper.

Freeze for half an hour then cut into bars and store in the fridge.

Makes about 8 bars.

 Mock-Peanut and Chocolate Chip variation:
Omit 1.5 cups of the shredded coconut and all of the sea salt.
Substitute SunButter for the almond butter.
Add 1 cup of salted roasted sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips.

 

♥, Kelly

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Kelly is the author of The Spunky Coconut blog, and three cookbooks. She lives in Boulder County, Colorado, with her husband, three daughters and Boston Terrier

 

52 Responses to Vanilla & Toasted Coconut Bars (and food for traveling)

  • Maureen says:

    Wow! These look so good! I’m a sucker for toasted coconut, so I’ll be making these very soon.

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Maureen, Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • MrsEWP says:

    If you’re not a fan of dates is there a suitable substitute?

    [Reply]

    Meagan Reply:

    @MrsEWP, Yeah! Try figs or raisins or prunes! I’ve found they are completely interchangeable in most recipes.

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Meagan, I agree, but I have to say I don’t think anyone would ever taste the dates in this recipe – there aren’t the main ingredient like Larabars =)

    [Reply]

    Tessa Reply:

    @Kelly Brozyna, I agree Kelly! I just made these and the dates are not detectable t o my taste buds….

  • Meagan says:

    You most certainly can bring homemade trailmix, protein bars, and other items on the plane! They totally understand that “it’s lunch” and it’s perfectly fine! I travel A LOT and have gotten the meals on the plane thing down. I fly coast to coast mostly and so sometimes I have to pack ALL THREE MEALS. I take yogurt in a little container (they’ve NEVER had an issue with this if it’s in my own container and isn’t huge and is in my lunch bag), guacamole, cheese slices, sausages, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, apples, bananas, salad (DON’T forget your fork), roasted chicken, homemade dip for carrots and celery… the list goes on! Let me know if you need any tips :D

    And these bars look great!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Meagan, Thanks Meagan, I’m sure those who want to pack homemade food for the plane will appreciate this =)

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  • These look wonderful – thanks. My understanding is that coconut butter and coconut cream are the same thing. Do you know any differently?

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Adrienne @ Whole New Mom, The Tropical Traditions concentrate is harder/thicker than the coconut butter I linked to. I haven’t tested these with the butter yet, but I think it would still work. You might need to add a little coconut oil to help them solidify =)

    [Reply]

  • Sarah says:

    Love the recipe! Because we’re mostly raw, the version I make uses fresh coconut or dried, untoasted coconut. I bet the toasting gives a nice buttery, nutty flavor… may have to try that for a treat. Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream concentrate seems thicker to me than coconut butter. I don’t have a jar on hand right now, but I think it is coconut oil and coconut meat together. It’s more stiff than the coconut butters I’ve used and a bit grainy with the coconut meat. THat’s my experience with coconut cream concentrate — love it. For a sub, I would take coconut oil or coconut butter and blitz it with 1/4 cup of coconut flesh in a Vitamix for that creamy goodness. There is a good amount of coconut in this recipe though, so you can likely just sub coconut butter or coconut oil to get the binding properties. YUM!

    A great variation, if you like lemon is to use lemon extract and macademias instead of almonds. A grating of organic lemon rind and you’ve got a really bright bar.

    Looking forward to checking out more of your blog. :)

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Sarah, Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Natalie Reply:

    @Sarah, I am definitely going to try this lemon kind! Thanks for sharing the variation Sarah, and Kelly for the great recipe! I have been wanting to make a bar type snack for a few days so this is perfect timing.

    [Reply]

    Elizabeth Richardson Reply:

    @Sarah,
    Thanks for the suggestion of lemon extract with macadamia nuts – I am highly allergic to almonds – worse luck – as almond flour etc is in so many gluten gree, grain free recipes.
    Again thanks to Kelly for the recipe and Sarah for the alternative ingedients!

    [Reply]

  • Rica says:

    Toasting the coconut in a fry pan is a lot easier on the stovetop instead of the oven and takes less energy too. I would do batches of 1/2 cup each depending on the size of your frypan. Set for medium heat and keep an eye on it, b/c it does go from pale to brown very easily. Even if the color of the coconut is pale, go by your nose. If it smells sweet and coconutty, remove it from the heat and start the next batch.

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Rica, That sounds like a good method too.

    [Reply]

  • Yup, another great recipe from Kelly. I love how simple this is and making bars for traveling is one of my favorite things. I am definitely going to try these very soon – and you better believe I will be adding the chocolate chips :) Nothing goes better together then coconut and chocolate!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Beth @ Tasty Yummies, Thank you! I totally agree =)

    [Reply]

  • Kathryn says:

    Oh I wish I’d seen this yesterday because I’d be packing them now. Definitely on my list to try when I get home from my quick trip. I’m packing for a flight this afternoon and have the same coconut Lara bars in my bag with some Kind bars, bagged nuts and my own breakfast cake and flat bread pizzas for a two day meeting.

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Kathryn, Hope you enjoy them when you return!

    [Reply]

  • sounds delicious! I love that combination of flavors! yum! thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy, Thank you!

    [Reply]

  • Ronnda Stapleton says:

    My daughter has a dairy intolerance, and she can’t have vanilla. This is a new diagnosis, so I am trying to figure out what can be used instead of vanilla. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Ronnda Stapleton, I think a little almond extract would also be very good. I would try 1/4 tsp to start – then taste it and add more if you like.

    [Reply]

  • Thanks Kelly, I just got my first food processor and will try these today. They look so awsome and I love coconut!!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Sharon L Ulam, You’re welcome! Have fun with the food processor!

    [Reply]

  • These look GREAT! I am for sure making these for our airplane trip coming up in August. To answer your question about bringing homemade food on the plane… yes, you can do that. I’ve been doing that for over 5 years and never had a problem. I’ve heard people say that you are not allowed to bring your own food into the airport (much like the theaters!), but I’ve never had anything taken from us. I’ve brought on beans & rice in coconut milk, fresh corn tortillas, fresh avocados, cheese, homemade crackers, nuts, dried fruits, hard boiled eggs, etc…. I have even brought on a bottle of fresh milk for my youngest. They say its okay because it is for a child. Interesting.

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Marillyn @ just-making-noise, Hi! Great to hear from you! {{{hugs}}}

    [Reply]

  • Karen says:

    Meagan, do they ever give you a hard time about any ice pack type things you might use to keep your food cold? They took mine once (they were cooling pumped breast milk in my cooler!)-this was a few years ago. Now contemplating a long flight with the kids and nervous about what to expect!

    [Reply]

    Saskia Reply:

    @Karen,

    Karen, I had the exact same question about the ice pack. For years I’d just brought empty ziplock type bags with my food, and then once on the other side of security I’d get some ice from the food court–voila, instant “ice pack”. But two weeks ago I took a flight across the country and I decided I’d see what would happen if I brought an official (completely frozen) ice pack. I watched as the TSA lady stopped the conveyor belt, pulled out my little cooler, quickly fondled the ice pack, and then immediately closed my cooler and went on with life….. I had heard in the past that ice packs were ok, as long as they were completely frozen, now I have personal evidence that it appears to be ok.

    [Reply]

    Christina Reply:

    Last fall we flew across country and I packed a bag of frozen strawberries from Trader Joes to keep our lunch cold. It worked fine and then we ate the strawberries.

    [Reply]

  • Nancy Gowins says:

    Can’t wait to try them! Thank YOU!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Nancy Gowins, You are so welcome =)

    [Reply]

  • Kelli says:

    I am really excited about this recipe because we are missionaries & we are going to be traveling around the country for a year, and I am in need of healthy travel food, so thank you! I even have all of the ingredients for the vanilla & toasted coconut one.

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Kelli, I’m so glad =)

    [Reply]

  • These sound great for my daughter’s snack at preschool. They serve unhealthy snacks all the time, but sometimes nuts are banned from the classroom- so they sunbutter version would be good. Do they hold together well in the heat or do they fall apart if warm?

    [Reply]

    Kelly Brozyna Reply:

    @Dawn @cuter than gluten, They can stand up for a while when room temperature, but I don’t know exactly how hot they could be before they melted. We had ours warm for a while and they were soft, but not butter =)

    [Reply]

  • Tessa says:

    I wil report back soon on solidifying, but I just made these using my homemade coconut butter…the flavor is over the top! I really hope my picky and llergic to everything son goes for them too…yum Kelly! Imdidmleave the water out….we will see!

    [Reply]

    Tessa Domestic Diva Reply:

    @Tessa, It worked great! I added a couple tablespoons coconut oil and 2 T water…when it didn’t bind quite well enough, I let the whole mixture process a bit (with the toasted coconut) and this did the trick. Mine are a perfect texture at room temp, but it is not hot here in Oregon!

    [Reply]

  • Saskia says:

    Karen, I had the exact same question about the ice pack. For years I’d just brought empty ziplock type bags with my food, and then once on the other side of security I’d get some ice from the food court–voila, instant “ice pack”. But two weeks ago I took a flight across the country and I decided I’d see what would happen if I brought an official (completely frozen) ice pack. I watched as the TSA lady stopped the conveyor belt, pulled out my little cooler, quickly fondled the ice pack, and then immediately closed my cooler and went on with life….. I had heard in the past that ice packs were ok, as long as they were completely frozen, now I have personal evidence that it appears to be ok.

    [Reply]

  • MeMary says:

    Hi Kelly!
    Have your fun side (and your sweet, brave children) discovered by chance … Perhaps because I so much love recipes with coconut, yummy!

    So my question;
    Since I suffer from a fructose intolerance me your recipe creations come against mostly great.
    What could you take in your “Vanilla and Toasted Coconut Bars” instead of the dried fruit to keep it?

    P.S. Kelly, I’m not from America, and excuse me for my ever written something bad translation.

    Kind regards Mary

    [Reply]

  • Yum! I’m adding this recipe to my Must Make list and sharing the link on my Facebook page :)

    [Reply]

  • Wonderful! Of course I love the SunButter adaptation. But I’m also eager to make these for the gaggle of kids I’m continually hosting, chauffeuring–and feeding! Thanks for the timely inspiration.

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  • I just recently tried Larabar and fell in love with the taste! So I bought more in different flavors, I love the coconut cream pie, my favorite. I will def try the Nude Food Bar. Thanks for the recipe! I’ll try to recreate at home. You can bring snacks on the plane just not liquids. :)

    [Reply]

  • lb says:

    Wow. I wanted to check out the ingredients in the Nude bar so I googled “nude bar”. Big mistake!

    [Reply]

  • LF says:

    Do you have the breakdown of calories, sugar, carbs,etc for some of us on certain restricted diets?? Thanks

    [Reply]

  • Shay says:

    I can confirm they worked fine with Artisana coconut butter! Really good and can’t wait to try the other variations.

    [Reply]

  • Linda says:

    Any idea what the calorie/fat content or nutritional value of these bars is? Maybe I missed is due to the long thread. They sound amazing, but I am watching my diet and having to log my food daily. I need to know calorie and fat content. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Linda Reply:

    Sorry. Just saw someone else asking for the same thing. I didn’t see any response though. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Amy Green Reply:

    @Linda, We don’t post nutritional content. We’re not dieticians or nutritionists and when it comes to that type of info it needs to be correct because people rely on it for health, especially diabetics. There are many different internet sites that allow you to input a recipe and derive nutritional content on your own.

    [Reply]

  • This recipe contains pretty much all of my favorite things! I am adding these ingredients to my shopping list now.

    [Reply]

    Meg @ Beard and Bonnet Reply:

    @Meg @ Beard and Bonnet, Forgot to mention that we fly with homemade snacks all of the time and have never had a problem, but I think we may be trying a few of the suggestions above from time to time too.

    [Reply]

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