Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Carob-Banana Bars (grain-free + sugar-free)

These moist, delicious, high-protein gluten-free, sugar-free bars are made with almond flour, carob powder, and a touch of cinnamon. They are sweetened only with mashed banana and liquid stevia. Carob powder is naturally sweet unlike cocoa powder which is very bitter. This means that you do not need to add massive amounts of sweetener as you need to with cocoa powder. Carob is also a decent source of protein and high in calcium. Although carob doesn't taste like chocolate, it does have a sweet, nutty, molasses-like flavor that adds depth and a unique taste to your baked goods.

If you would like to replace the carob in this recipe with cocoa powder then I suggest either increasing the liquid stevia or consider adding about 1/4 cup of coconut sugar to the recipe. I use blanched almond flour in this recipe which is very different from the almond flour you find in most health food stores. It can only be ordered online and can't be substituted with other ingredients. I know many people who are gluten-free already use this flour. It is perfect for grain-free cooking and also adds tenderness, flavor, and nutrition to grain-based gluten-free baking.

Grain-Free Carob-Banana Bars

These bars make a nutritious, quick breakfast or a healthy after-school snack. Serve them with a glass of raw almond milk. I buy my almond flour from Lucy's Kitchen Shop here in Bellingham but you can also find it at Honeyville or Benefit your Life.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup carob powder
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 heaping cup)
2 large organic eggs
1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
20 to 25 drops liquid stevia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish with coconut oil.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Use your fingers to break up any clumps in the almond flour. Then whisk the ingredients together. Set aside.

In a small bowl, add the bananas and mash with a fork. Measure the mashed bananas to make sure they are just over 1 cup. Add more banana if needed or remove some. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir together with the fork.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting into bars. Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

More Grain-Free Recipes:
Vegan Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes
Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Raw Chocolate Pie

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. THANK YOU!!!!! Finally, someone else has stated that CAROB DOESN'T TASTE LIKE CHOCOLATE!! I LOVE carob and really dislike how it's compared to chocolate or looked at as a chocolate substitute. As I say "It is is like an Elvis impersonator, going around pretending to be something it's not, it's its own kind of herb!"

    I wrote my graduate school ("thesis") monograph on carob, by the way. I really want it to gain its own recognition, especially since, as you said, it's naturally sweet (unlike chocolate). That's one thing I really love about it and want people to "get".

    So, THANK YOU!

  2. I often tease about the "almond flour and egg cookbooks" out and about now. It seems like not much can be done in baking without the almond flour + egg combo. These look soooo yummy! Alas, no bananas for me (who's allergic to bananas?!) and no eggs for D. We do use almond flour--it is possible to do things with it without eggs too. It's just that lots of baked almond flour-y things seem to go with eggs.

    Three cheers for these though--they look delicious :-)!

  3. What's the difference between blanched almond flour and 'regular' organic almond flour?

  4. Lovely recipe, Ali! It's clear I need to stock up on bananas again. :-) They tend to go quickly with my daily smoothies. ;-)


  5. YUM I love the ingredients in this recipe! I love carob too, it's delicious and doesn't make me feel yicky the way chocolate does. Almond flour rocks my world, too. Thanks for this!

  6. These look so yummy. I bet flax eggs would work just fine in them as well. And, for Jennifer - I bet you could do a pumpkin version.

  7. wow carob and bananas, these are a few of my favourite things!

    I was wondering if you were interested in submitting your photos to my new tastespotting-esque photo sharing site:


  8. That looks delicious!! Although I eat pretty healthy, lately I've been trying to incorporate more GF foods in our diet, to work my way up to completely GF. And thank you for providing a recipe that actually calls for carob! I've been having allergic reactions to chocolate and though carob doesn't taste the same, it hits the spot when I'm craving something rich and sweet.

    I'm also curious what can be used to replace eggs in almond flour recipes? I've tried once, with one of my favourite GF almond flour cookie recipe, to replace with flax/water as I normally do in gluten recipes, but it was ridiculously crumbly. Is there a trick?

  9. These look amazing Ali!

    I absolutely love carob, and no, it definitely doesn't taste like chocolate ... but that is part of it's charm. I wish my husband was a carob fan too.

  10. Can I substitute pecan flour for the almond flour? I have a sensitivity to almonds.

  11. For those of you who are curious about the difference between blanched almond flour and almond meal/flour....blanched almond flour is like a "flour" - it is light and powdery. The almond flour you can buy in most stores, such as Bob's Red Mill is more like a "meal" not very fine and powdery. While I love almond meal for many recipes, it won't work in recipes calling for blanched almond flour.

    Anon - Pecan flour sounds wonderful! I have never used it so I don't know how it would work here, give it a try, and let us know how it goes.

    Enjoy!! -Ali :)

  12. This was an awesome recipe. I was out of carob powder so I did substitute cacao powder and added extra liquid chocolate stevia...it did have a bit of that bitter stevia taste but it's not something that I mind...next time if I use the cacao powder I will try the palm sugar. I LOVE carob so I am looking forward to making these with it next week! I think it would be awesome with pumpkin too!

  13. This was delicious! Instead of almond flour, I used a combination of sunflower seeds and shelled hemp seeds that I ground in my food proc. I thought the sunflower seeds on their own would be too strongly flavored and the hemp seeds would be too oily. I did this combination with Elana's carrot cake recipe (http://www.elanaspantry.com/carrot-cake/), too, and it worked great. The kids loved it. Thanks!

  14. I have never had carob before, but will have to try it. I like healthy bars every once and a while, and would love to make some that are healthy and delicious!



  15. Hi Ali, thanks for sharing this another healthy recipe! Those carob-banana bars look very delicious. :)

  16. So I just had my few first bites of this recipe... It was very, very good!!! As I was making it, I thought I probably wouldn't go through the hassle again as I ground and blended my own almond flour using a Bosch and Vita-mix... it was a very tedious and messy process. BUT, the cake is amazingly decadent considering the healthy ingredients. I had it baking for about 37 minutes, and the toothpicks came out quite clean. Nonetheless it almost had seemed like it wasn't baked through once I cut into it. Perhaps it is the nature of cooking with almond flour, or the lack of eggs? We used ground up Chia seed as an egg replacer, so the recipe was completely gluten and dairy free. Anyhow... to sum it up, it's so good, and rich tasting that I could see myself going through the trouble of making my own almond flour again. Great job as usual Nourishing Meals. It is far and few between that I try something you guys come up with that isn't a winner. Waiting for the new cookbook with anticipation of more good things to come!

    - Mark

  17. I made these last week and they were a huge hit. I told my husband they were chocolate cake brownies and he LOVED them! And they were so light and airy too. Definitely going in my recipe book.

  18. I made these with Almond Meal from Trader Joe's and they turned out great! I also used Wilderness Family Naturals organic, raw, extra-virgin coconut oil and carob powder from the co-op. I didn't have a 9x9 pan but used a 7.5x11.5 pan and they were done baking in 23 minutes. I love that these bars are sugar free and gluten free - please share more recipies with stevia and almond flour! Thanks for a delicious, easy recipe!

  19. I, too, would like to know if you can use flax or chia seeds instead of eggs? Mark said that it worked fine. How much chia seed mixture should be used for each egg? I really want to try this recipe.

    Can't wait for the new book. Keep up the good work

  20. Wow, yum! I am really starting to embrace carob. I love it in smoothies, and yes, it's different than chocolate, but as long as you embrace its carob-y-ness, then I think it's lovely!

  21. Hmm..I wonder how I could make a variation of this without banana's? I have a banana allergy.

  22. This recipe sounds amazing. I'm wondering if you know a good substitute for almond flour, I'm allergic to the malic acid in most nuts with the exception of cashews, brazil nuts, pecans and all seeds. Any help you can give would be most appreciated.

  23. These look so yummy... now you're going to hate me for this, but my husband is deathly allergic TO COCONUT, and it's an hereditary allergy so I can't even keep it in the kitchen now that I'm pregnant. But we can both digest milk well, so I'm wondering if I can substitute unsalted butter for the coconut oil, or possibly another oil like Sunflower? And would that work for any of these yummy desserts?

  24. Thanks everyone for the feedback!

    Sharon - I have not tried these with flax or chia so not sure. But generally you can try to replace eggs with 2 to 4 tablespoons ground chia whisked with 1/2 cup hot water for 2 large eggs.

    Beaglebea - you could try replacing the bananas with unsweetened applesauce.

    Shawna - You could replace the almond flour with hazelnut flour but it looks like that nut is out of the question for you. If anyone else has any ideas maybe they can help by leaving a comment.

    lippian84 - Sure, you can easily replace the coconut oil with organic unsalted butter in any recipe! :)

  25. Thank you Ali for yet another outstanding recipe! We doubled the recipe and made this in a 9x13 pan and it was absolutely marvellously wonderful! Everyone at our house raved over it.

    We didn't have carob, so used cocoa with the sugar modification you suggested, which tasted just grand and definitely not too sweet. Additionally, since I didn't have any blanched almond flour handy, I whizzed some blanched slivered almonds in the food processor and then again in the coffee grinder and it all worked out super. Our homemade flour wasn't as fine as the purchased, but I liked the little bits of crunchy in the cake. I look forward to baking this recipe again!!!

    Your recipes ALWAYS work and I appreciate all the effort you take in developing them. Thank you.


  26. These look really good and I am just waiting for my bananas to ripen a bit so I can make them. As for carob powder, I know there is the roasted and unroasted variety. Which kind do you use? To what degree would it make a difference? I have some BRM carob powder, but since I store it in a glass jar, I can't remember if it's roasted or raw!

  27. I made these with two changes, and they were so delicious! Since I didn't have blanched almond flour or Stevia, I ground up raw almonds (with the skin) and used 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. My ground almonds does turn out like meal, but I like that chewy "bite."

  28. This recipe sounds amazing and I would love to try it. Do you think it would work if I substituted half canned pumpkin for the banana and used more stevia?

  29. Yum! This brings up a question I have: I am about to start the Elimination Diet and have been wondering if carob is allowed.

    1. Hi Erin-

      Yes! Carob powder is allowed on the Elimination Diet, however it is a high FODMAP food so if you experience a lot of gas, bloating, tummy cramps, etc. then you might want to limit or avoid carob. FODMAP reactions are dose dependent so a little might be ok.

  30. I would like to make this with honey instead of liquid stevia. How much should I use, and would I need to change anything else in the recipe?

  31. I would like to make this recipe with honey instead of liquid stevia. How much should I use, and would I need to make any other changes?


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)