The highlight of these paleo snack bars are the toasted pepitas! A healthy snack that is packed with a variety of nuts and seeds and brought together with honey! All natural and gluten-free!
I love saying the word pepitas because it makes me sound like I actually know something about food. A wonderful memory I have of childhood is eating pumpkin seeds, only at Halloween of course, and only after they were roasted in the oven after being bathed in butter and salt. They were such a delicious snack, the seeds would last for about 5 minutes before I gobbled them up with wild abandon. Remembering how much I enjoyed being elbow deep in a pumpkin, scooping out slimy orange strings dotted with white seeds, made me smile. I would meticulously remove the seeds from their fleshy bindings and rinse them while trying to keep them from slipping through my fingers and into the drain, mourning the loss of each and every seed that got away. Can you have a memorial service for seeds?
Mom only bought pumpkins at Halloween. She would always say, “If you want pumpkin, you can get it in a can, and it’s cheaper and cleaner than buying the whole thing! Plus, you don’t like to eat pumpkin, so why should I buy another one?” Little did I know that you could buy those precious, tasty gems at the store. Only they are green and not white and called pepitas (lol)! What’s up with that? I always ate my seeds with the hull (white seed coating) intact. I stuffed them in my mouth so fast I never noticed the little green seed inside their shell. Thinking back, I got a lot of extra fiber eating that hull!
When I got inspired to make these bars, I wanted to eliminate the oats and grains so I could eat them on my paleo diet but also because I love nuts and seeds so much and greedily wanted a bar that highlighted just them. To add texture and flavor to the bar, I toasted all the nuts and seeds which brought about a delicious side effect. NO warning labels needed here as the toasted pepitas, ha ha-I still love that word, added another layer of nostalgic flavor and brought me back to my childhood, and eating pumpkin seeds. I know that it is summer time so I will stop talking about pumpkins. But, who wouldn’t want to remember something so fun (and messy)?
Before you get started with the honey mixture, make sure all your nuts and seeds are toasted. Since they are all different sizes, I would advise toasting them separately. I make foil boats to hold each different seed type so I toast all at once. Then I remove the smaller ones as they get done, leaving the larger ones more time in the oven.
Once all nuts and seeds are toasted, cool them down and rough chop the almonds and pecans. I leave all the other seeds whole because this makes the bars look pretty!
*Tip: I toast all my seeds in large quantities and use the extras for yogurt, salads, additional batches of Paleo snack bars, and other snacking opportunities.
Grease your pan with coconut oil or some other cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
Put your honey and water into a heavy-bottomed pot on medium high heat.
Insert a candy thermometer into the mixture (not touching the bottom of the pot) and stir the mixture. Keep an eye on the thermometer, and let the honey mixture cook until it reaches 275F or the soft crack stage. I know some may think that it should be 260 (soft ball stage) but every time I cook to 260, the bars would turn out to be too sticky and did not hold together well. I cooked mine until it reached 275 and immediately removed from the heat and poured over my nut and seed mixture. Stir quickly to coat all the seeds evenly. Sprinkle your salt in at this point and give one last stir. If you like your bars salty, you might add a pinch more.
Pour into a parchment lined 8×8 square pan. Press down with the back of a greased spatula to make them even spread out to the corners of the pan. This took me a few tries to get right without them being thicker in the middle of the pan. Practice makes perfect!
Don’t worry, your family will gobble these up and you’ll get plenty of practice making batch after batch.
Once they cool for about 10 minutes, go ahead and cut the bars. Let them cool completely in the pan. If you let them cool completely before cutting, it will get harder to cut them evenly. Wrap in parchment paper and store in an airtight container. They will last a week, but mine barely makes it 2 days before they are gone.
If you liked these, try this smaller version!