Chewy Ginger Granola Bites & Random Acts of Kindness (30 Days of RAKs)

Chewy Ginger Granola Bites & Random Acts of Kindness
Chewy Ginger Granola Bites – recipe in post

This month is a very special month! I’ve set a goal for myself to do 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days – today is Day 6, and so far, so good! As the name suggests, Random Acts of Kindness are any little thing you do for someone else, while expecting nothing in return. It can be as small as offering to help someone carry in their groceries, or something a little bigger, like volunteering for an organization or donating to a charity. It’s just under a week into my 30-day challenge, and here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. Gone to a library/bookstore and tucked notes into books for people to find. I really like this one, because I know if I picked up a book and halfway through found a happy little message from someone, I’d pretty much be grinning from ear-to-ear all day.
  2. Struck up a long conversation with a couple of strangers and ended up chatting over dinner at a restaurant I’d never been to. It’s amazing to me how anti-social our culture tends to be, and how rewarding it can be to break the mold and reach out, even just a little.
  3. Made this this flyer and left it on a public bulletin board in downtown Ann Arbor. I wish I could say this was an original idea of mine, but I’m not that brilliant. I thought I might have trouble finding a place to pin it up, but there was a big open spot on the board that was just made for it!
  4. I went to the dollar store and hid some dollar bills amongst the toys in the kids section, with a note saying “get yourself something, on me!” – I wish I’d had a little time to stick around and see some happy faces.
  5. Put together a bunch of care packages to give to homeless people. Each package contains almost a days worth of food (granola bars, poptarts), a pair of warm socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, other hygiene essentials, and a note. It cost me around five dollars a piece to put them together, and I figure if I give a homeless person five dollars (even in the best case scenario where it doesn’t get spent on booze/drugs) it probably wouldn’t stretch this far.
  6. I made these granola bites… and restrained myself from eating them all long enough to share them with some friends and neighbors! Bite-sized granola is pretty hard to resist, so trust me when I say this was a big one for me.
Six down, twenty-four to go! Not that I’ll be stopping there, of course. The idea of any 30-day challenge is to help form a habit. It isn’t hard to be kind, and it can make a world of difference – literally!

RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) all started back in the early 90’s, when a college professor in California, Dr. Chuck Wall, got tired of hearing about ‘Random Acts of Senseless Violence’ on the news. Dr. Wall went to his Human Relations students and gave them this assignment: go out and commit random acts of senseless kindness. Thus, an international movement was born.

At the start of my 30-day challenge, I asked people to join me in committing Random Acts of Kindness this month. There are no hard and fast rules, all you have to do is be kind! If you want to participate, it’s never too  late – you can do as many or as few RAKs as you’d like. Whenever you do an RAK, tell me about it in the comments below, or in an e-mail. At the end of the month, I’ll write a post sharing all the things people did. Can you imagine how much of a difference we could all make? One of my favorite quotes is this, by Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are, it’s those little bits of good that overwhelm the world.”

If you want to join the challenge, just leave me a comment at the bottom of the page. You can also friend me on Facebook, where I’ll be posting my Random Act each day, or follow my Pinterest board to get some more RAK ideas.

So tell me – have you done something kind today?

Chewy Ginger Granola Bites & Random Acts of Kindness
Something Special Just For You!

Chewy Ginger Granola Bites
Makes 36-42 bites, or 6-8 full-sized bars
Gluten-Free, easily made Vegan*

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 TBSP chia seeds
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
2 TBSP coconut oil
1/2 cup honey*
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
15 medjule dates, pitted and chopped fine
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (I used a mix of chopped apricots and cranberries)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

*The honey can be replaced with brown rice syrup or coconut nectar to make these vegan, but I’m not sure if they will hold together quite as well. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

1.   Preheat oven to 350f., and line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, such that the paper comes up over the sides of the dish and can be used to easily lift the granola out of the pan once it’s done baking.
2.   Spread the oats, coconut, and almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden, stopping to stir them every few minutes to keep them from burning. Once toasted, dump into a large bowl along with the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3.   Reduce the oven temperature to 300f.
4.   In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the coconut oil, honey, and brown sugar. Chop the dates finely, until they become almost paste-like, and add them to the pot. Break apart the dates with a spoon, and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and gooey. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla extract.
5.   Pour the wet ingredients over the oats, nuts, and seeds, and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until everything is evenly moistened. Add in the dried fruit and crystallized ginger, and mix until evenly combined.
6.   Dump the granola mixture into your prepared baking dish and press down firmly with your fingers to smooth the entire surface. Bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even baking.
7.   Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into bites or bars. Granola can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for about a week or so, or in the fridge or freezer for about a month. I can’t say exactly how long it will keep, because mine never lasts more than a few days. Enjoy!

To see a round-up of my 30 Random Acts of Kindness, click here: 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days (and then some!)

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13 Responses to Chewy Ginger Granola Bites & Random Acts of Kindness (30 Days of RAKs)

  1. Abby March 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Wow, you are an inspiration. I absolutely love the idea of RAK month! And these bites would put a smile on my face for sure, yum :)

  2. Kim @ Treats and Trinkets March 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Such a great idea! I love the dollar store idea. Since I often spend my lunch break in the dollar store, I may have to try that out!

    • Willow March 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks! That was one of my favorites. I felt really sneaky, and like I had to be quick so no one caught me, haha!

  3. shannon weber March 9, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    I really do love this whole random acts of kindness challenge you’re doing: what a way to get out there and just know you’re making a difference with seemingly small things, right? I LOVE the notes in books idea…i want to do that now, especially since i’m a library JUNKIE and probably have most of the cookbook collection in rotation at my house. You’re right: our culture has become so antisocial; everyone’s so busy with their own thing, and sticking their face in phones, that they forget to make eye contact (and i’m guilty of this myself occasionally). You’ve inspired me to work on this for myself; i want to come up with some ideas and then start executing them. I will say that ever since I quit work to raise stella, i’ve focused more and more on not “rushing” through public places unless i have to. I always try to let others in a hurry go ahead of me in line at the grocery (because i have nowhere to be at a specific time), I’ve helped some of the older people with their things from time to time (exercise for me!) and just generally tried to take my time and talk to people. So amazing how many of us walk around in our own little bubbles and just don’t think to communicate. Great undertaking, Willow; makes me want to do more.

    • Willow March 10, 2013 at 3:02 am #

      Thanks, Shannon! I would love to hear about any RAKs you do this month – big, little, or anything in between! Sometimes just smiling to someone who’s having a bad day can make a difference. I know I’ve certainly had days where all it takes is one small gesture to set me straight again, and I just hope that by putting myself out there a little more, I can do that for someone else. Also, not to be selfish or anything, but doing something nice for someone else is a great way to feel good myself! I have such a fun time coming up with ideas. :)

  4. Ruthy @ omeletta March 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Such a beautiful thing to do! I especially am heartwarmed by the dollar store idea and homeless care package. Are you handing the packages out on the street, or dropping them off at shelters? That’s the first one I’d jump on board with- such a good idea, since the idea of handing out cash on the streets always makes me a little uneasy. And also, those granola bites look to die for :)

    • Willow March 10, 2013 at 3:06 am #

      Thanks, Ruthy! My plan with the care packages is to hand them out to individuals as I see them. I’m hoping to also volunteer at my local food bank later this month, and/or make a bigger food donation directly to a shelter. :)

  5. Hari Chandana March 13, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Wowww…. Sounds too good and amazing.. love the pictures too.. thanks for the wonderful recipe :)

  6. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Granola is hard to resist and in bite form I would be in trouble! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this challenge, and I am totally doing the flyer- what an amazing idea!

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      Seriously addictive… glad I was giving them away, or else the whole batch would’ve been gone within a day or two. And that flier is definitely one of my favorite RAKs! I wish I could say I was clever enough to have come up with it on my own, but I’ve actually seen it around the web. Had to do it, though!

  7. Leandre March 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    These bites are divine. Seriously. Among the things that make them perfect are the fact that they actually hold together, unlike EVERY OTHER granola bar/bite recipe I have ever made. Add to that ginger…and well, I swoon with every bite. Thanks for the recipe, the especially the inspiration for a RAK month. Love them both.

    • Willow March 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Thanks! I’m so glad you like them! To be honest with you, this has been the only recipe that’s worked for me to get a really chewy granola that holds together. I was pretty determined to make it work this time! I’m also happy to hear that I’ve inspired you… that was my hope! :)

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