Recipe: Bird Bars

Kickstart your week with this gluten-free snack!

This post comes to us from contributor Lexie Smith.

There was a time, many moons ago, when the world had never heard of a place called Portlandia and I was just commencing my phase of epic mistake making. It was then that I got the word “bird” tattooed on the nape of my neck. I did it with my two best friends and twin sister. We were 18 years old and fancied ourselves “birds of feather that flocked together,” or something, and I knew even then of my knack for escapism, which tightly aligned me with anything winged.


I still find a kindredness there, though the omnipresence of the symbol has sucked a lot of the sentimentality from it. I mean… I literally put a bird on it. “It” being my body… forever. However, I always have, and always will, eat like a bird. Not the timid, peckish bit, but more like I really love bird food. If tiny seeds and tiny grains weren’t so tiny, they’d have my name written all over them.

So, I developed a recipe celebrating this and filled it with everything I knew would keep me full and able to fly around the whole day through, without the heaviness of a lot of other quick breakfast or snack options. If you’ve got the fragile belly of a bird as well, these won’t weigh you down- they’re gluten-free, nut-free, and easily made vegan (with the substitution of agave for honey). As an added plus, they’re far more economical than similar nut-based bars. The internet is a scary place, and full of unreliable recipes that tell you to spend half your rent’s worth of dollars on ingredients. Skip ‘em.

I make a version of these bars for Lower East Side favorite El Rey in Manhattan, and you’d be surprised how often they win out over the banana bread. Fly right off the shelves, y’all.




Bird Bars
Yield: 30 bars

This makes a ton. They keep very well in the fridge for a couple weeks, or the freezer for a while longer. If freezing, wrap well.
I highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale, for recipes like this and others.


2 cups (190g) gluten-free oats

1 ¼ cup (130g) oat flour (just throw some oats in a food processor or blender until fine)

3 cups (360g) sunflower seeds, toasted

1 cup + 2 Tbsp pepitas (120g), toasted and rough chopped

6 Tbsp (40g) black sesame seeds

2.5 Tbsp (20g) poppy seeds

5 Tbsp (55g) millet, lightly toasted

1.5 Tbsp acai powder (optional, available online)

⅔ cup (75g) dried pineapple, finely chopped

2 tsp salt

½ cup (130g) sunflower seed butter*

½ cup + 1 Tbsp (175g) honey

1 Tbsp flax meal

1 ½ cups (350g) pureed dates**

1.5 Tbsp water

*You can easily make this at home in a food processor or blender. Just throw a cup of sunflower seeds and a tablespoon or so of oil together and blend until the seeds break down. It doesn’t need to become very runny.
**Also DIY friendly- don’t buy pre-blended dates. They lack flavor and texture. Just rough chop and then process medjool or deglet dates until a mass of soft, well-blended dates starts running around the blade.

Lightly grease and parchment two extra large loaf pans (16”x4”) or two 8”x8” pans. Set aside.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, preferably in a stand-up mixer if you have one.


Place the sunflower seed butter, honey, and flax meal in a pot and heat until the honey is just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat.

Turn the mixer on its lowest speed and begin adding in the dates a handful at a time, along with the water. Now pour in the sunflower seed butter/honey/flax syrup until well blended.

Take your prepared pans and with wet hands, very firmly press in the mixture. You want it to be as solid as possible and about an inch thick. Smooth the top with your hands or a flat bottomed heavy container. Put in the fridge for at least an hour.


When you are ready, take the baking pans out of the fridge and cut around the edges with a sharp knife. Flip onto a cutting board so that the bottom is now the top, and peel off the parchment. Cut into desired shapes. You should be able to get 30 very sizeable bars, or 45 smaller ones.






Check out more from Lexie on Instagram and her website.


  1. Made them and absolutely delicious! Although crumbly… but blame miss impatient for not reading the directions before mixing everything. And also substituting where she didn’t have enough of one ingredient. Still a classic that I’m definitely adding to my recipe collection. Thank you!

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