My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!


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breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars

Sometimes I spend hours racking my brain trying to come up with a new recipe.  There’s not a constant recipe catalog in my head spewing out new ideas left + right.  Sometimes I’ll have a streak with a lot of new ideas and other times I’m………blank.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

Typically, the “blank” times are when I have a lot of things going on and maybe I’ve had some time away from the kitchen.

Right now I kind of feel like, “How do I cook again?  I forget.”

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

When it comes to breakfast I feel like I’m never short of ideas, but I was absolutely stumped this week. 

I didn’t want to make anything cakey and it’s still too hot for hot, porridge-type breakfasts.  I started thinking about polenta and how much I love polenta as a hot breakfast porridge.

But, like I said, it’s just too hot for that. However, the really unique/fun/delicious thing about polenta is that it glues together as it cools.  No eggs or binding agent needed, just polenta + water.  Pretty cool stuff.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

You will typically find polenta in savory dishes, so I thought I’d try my hand at breakfastizing it.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

Meet the polenta trail mix breakfast bar.

Super thick, dense, and chewy with a bit of crunch + sweetness from the mix-ins.  This recipe is fully customizable depending on your fruit and nut preferences.

It takes just a few minutes to mix up on the stove and then it’s off to the fridge to chill and gel together. 

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

After it’s chilled you can scarf it down or have fun with topping options.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

I obviously go for the toppings.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

A little peanut butter + banana?


breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

Or, Greek yogurt + Colorado peaches?

I’ll take that, too.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

Print this!

No-Bake Polenta Trail Mix Bars gluten-free, vegan // yields 9 large bars

  • 3 cups water, or per your polenta cooking instructions
  • 1 cup polenta/corn grits
  • 1 cup dried fruit + nuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds, optional
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Boil water then stir in polenta slowly.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer and stir polenta frequently for about 5 minutes until you reach a very thick/stiff porridge consistency.  Or, follow package directions as it may vary slightly.
  3. In the last minute of cooking stir in the fruit and nuts, coconut, maple syrup, chia seeds [if using], coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.  Taste and add more maple syrup if desired.
  4. Cook for another minute and then pour into a 9x9 square pan and spread/pack firmly into the pan with the back of a spatula.
  5. Refrigerate uncovered until fully chilled.
  6. Slice polenta into squares, then top however you like, and eat.  Keep remaining bars wrapped or in a sealed container and refrigerated.
  7. Or, preheat a skillet over medium and coat the pan with coconut oil.
  8. Place the chilled polenta squares [or cut into strips] in the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes per side until golden brown.
  9. Remove from the pan and add toppings, or eat plain.

breakfast friday >> no-bake polenta trail mix bars || edible perspective

I cannot wait to make these for ski season.  I am thinking they’ll hold up really well wrapped and stuffed in my pocket for hours and they also won’t turn rock hard in colder temps like many granola bars tend to do.

They’re also incredibly filling and filled with all sorts of healthy goodness.

Eat up!

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Reader Comments (21)

They are incredible!!! Definitely making a batch next week! Such an inspiration!
August 22, 2013 | Unregistered
LOVE the originality of this and can't believe I have never considered it until now. You're so right, polenta is like a glue so it makes complete sense. Genius, and I can't wait to try these!
Interesting! I've never seen polenta used in this way but I love the idea of these breakfast bars. Definitely going to give these a try!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn
What a a snazzy idea Ashley! You're so creative in the kitchen :) This is definitely going on the list of "breakfasts to make asap!"
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
What a fun idea! I love polenta, too, but never would have thought to make it into a breakfast bar.
I am the same way with ideas. Sometimes I have a ton and other times totally blank. I hate the blank times!

These bars look awesome I LOVE polenta, so I am pretty excited to give then a try!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTieghan
Looks amazing and so creative! I've only known polenta for savory dishes but this definitely looks like something to try!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAly @ Return to Your Root
This is such a unique recipe, I can't wait to try it!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJesse @OutToLunchC
I was just looking for a breakfast bar recipe for a forthcoming hiking trip- thanks very much!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui
I never would have thought to put polenta in a trail mix bar, but it looks great!!
You are probably the most creative recipe developer that I have ever "met"--so I'm glad to hear that sometimes you feel "dry," too...but this recipe shows that perhaps we need those moments of "black" to lay the groundwork for incredible new ideas like this! I can't wait to make these (once my kitchen reno is finished and I have a stove again...).
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey @ The Next Course
I'm still sort of on the fence about polenta, but these look too cool not to try!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne
I never would have thought of this! I'm digging the polenta peanut butter and banana sandwiches!
How creative! It kind of reminds me of breakfast cornmeal mush - but in bar form. Can't wait to try this!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachael@AnAvocadoADay
These are genius! What a good idea to use the polenta! I would never have thought of that - but it's perfect b/c of how well it sets when it's cooled! I really can't wait to try these! I think I'll make a batch these weekend!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Tadic
Delicious and already made them! Can't wait for them to finish cooling. thank you again for another wonderful recipe. You are so talented.
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Huppin
Love the light in your new photo space! Absolutely gorgeous. These are so creative and fun - can't wait to try!
August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErica {Coffee & Quinoa}
@Christina - Thank you, thank you!

@Lindsey - Wowow...THANK you! Means so much! But, yes, I have definite times throughout the year where I'm in a major recipe rut!

@Maria - Enjoy!

@Leslie - Hope you loved them....and you are far too kind.
@Erica - Thanks so much! I'm still trying to get used to the light! :)
August 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
This sounds really tasty. I used to have polenta as a porridge a lot growing up. Thanks for reminding me!
These are genius! They are somehow light yet substantial at the same time. I did them with almonds and dried cherries. Delicious!
August 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrittany
@Brittany - Haha. I know exactly what you mean! Glad you enjoyed them!
August 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley

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