Lentil-Oat Bars and Holiday Lentil Gifts

***Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post!

For as long as I can remember, lentils have been a part of my life. My mother’s favorite meal is lentil soup, and if I had to choose a food to live on forever it would be lentils and rice, preferably basmati rice. 

Last month, I went to a conference in Austin, TX, where I learned about an organization promoting lentils, Canadian Lentils. I normally don’t write about specific products {except for books or interesting websites}, but this got my attention. They displayed lentils in burlap bags next to mason jars, in front of two tall shelves full of spices. From turmeric, ginger, garam masala, cumin, dried herbs, and different kinds of peppers, they encouraged visitors to take a jar fill it with lentils and add spices, either following one of their recipes or each person’s own mix. They elevated this humble pulse and made it the star of the conference, their booth was packed at all times with people interested on the endless possibilities provided by the spices. 


Lentils are miracle food. Let’s deconstruct this statement:

  • Lentils contain high amounts of protein. 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein
  • Lentils are high in heart-healthy fiber that also helps level blood sugar
  • Lentils provide high levels of iron 
  • Lentils, like other pulses or legumes, fix nitrogen into the soil where they are planted, creating a better growing environment for other plants, and reducing the carbon footprint of our food by using less chemical fertilizers per kilo-calorie
  • Lentils are delicious and versatile, and we can find recipes from all over the globe that feature them. They adapt to any spices and flavors we may dream of using. Italian lentil soup with tomatoes, thyme or oregano, for example, or Indian Dahl – orange split lentil – soup with curry, my mothers lentil soup with cumin, paprika and turmeric, or endless salad combinations, like Bulgur and black lentil salad with carrot green pesto.


The beautiful display at the conference gave me a great idea for a holiday gift basket item, and a perfect way for me to keep pushing lentils, and other pulses, on to people’s plates. I plan to fill jars with lentils and spices, decorate the jar with burlap and wrap a recipe tag with the instructions on how to turn its contents into dinner, a delicious one, I might add. 


Besides the inspiration for holiday gifts, I found a recipe in their cookbook for Maple Lentil Oat Bars, {because my obsession with lentils needed a to reach a new level.} The original recipe was too high in sugar for my liking, more of a dessert than a healthy snack, so I changed some of the ingredients, like using dark chocolate rather than chocolate chips, and reducing the maple syrup; and skipped others, like condensed milk used to drizzle. 


These bars are the answer to the ‘desperate snack dilemma’. That snack we resource to when running around and hunger strikes but time doesn’t allow slowing down to make a healthier option. Here at home, we resourced for a while on granola bars and other protein bars loaded with sugar, which was the same as eating a chocolate bar. An article in The New York Times titled “Why Your Granola is Really a Dessert”  explains the “grain-based dessert” as the government dietary guidelines labeled it, and the misconception surrounding some so-called “healthier” options. 

Nutty, soft, and slightly crunchy, these bars quickly gained popularity with Mr. Thomas who calls me every time he east one to tell me “Those bars are awesome, a total powerhouse food!” Snack dilemma solved, mission accomplished. 

Many farmers are also growing lentils here in the U.S., and the book Lentil Underground, by Liz Carlisle, tells the story of a group of farmers from Montana who began growing lentils in the late 1980s in a fight to turn agriculture around in their area, and to revive the soils they relied on. Their business has grown to producing other pulses and grains, changing the face of monocrop agriculture, stewarding the land, and subsequently improving their lives and the community.

Lentil-Oat Bars
Adapted from Maple Lentil Oat Bars from 
Makes 12 bars
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes

These bars come together quickly. Measure all of the ingredients as your oven heats up, then chop, blend, mix, spread and bake. The first day they’ll feel slightly dry, cover them and refrigerate them. Cut them the next day when they are softer and not as crumbly. Because I reduce the sugar, they are not sticky as a granola bar, but rather crumbly like a nut cake. 

  • Heat you oven to 350F
  • Oil a brownie pan or baking and line it with parchment paper

3 cups quick oats
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • In the bowl of a food processor chop the nuts and seeds for 2-3 minutes. Add oats and pulse to blend with nuts and seeds. Add chocolate and salt, and pulse again. 
  • Pour oat blend into a bowl 

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils, brown or green
3 tablespoon of oil – {I use olive oil, but you can use grapeseed, avocado, or coconut oil}
1/3 cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup peanut butter {I used a low-fat powder peanut butter mixed with water to a paste}

  • Place all these ingredients in the food processor bowl and pulse until it’s liquid and free of lumps

Final steps

  • Combine the lentil liquid with the oat mix, until it forms a paste
  • Spread on the prepared pan
  • Bake for 20 minutes, turning the pan around after 10 minutes 
  • Let cool completely before cutting
  • Cut and refrigerate to extend their shelf-life 

~ Paula

lentil oat bar recipe


2 thoughts on “Lentil-Oat Bars and Holiday Lentil Gifts”

  1. Like minds think alike…I just made lentils (always with rice) today! I also made a brittle/bar with pumpkin seeds though. These do look incredible and I have plenty of lentils in the nest to try this recipe out. Happy feasting.

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