Homemade Granola Bars
“My kids will never throw tantrums in public.”
“My daughter will always wear matching outfits.”
“My child will never eat processed junk food or suck down juice.”
You know all those lofty claims we make before having kids? Like a good friend of ours says, “I was the perfect parent until I had kids.” Too true. I am the mom who rips into the box of fruit snacks in the middle of Target, who lets my daughter mix polka dots with plaids, who allows my son to pee under the car in parking lot emergencies. I’m so sorry.
And don’t even get me started on those boxes of granola bars that are so easy to grab. Nutritious? No. Fast? Easy? Yes and yes. Oh, and they also help with those public meltdowns that were never supposed to happen.
Three years ago, I bought a bunch of juice on a great sale with coupons. The added bonus? For every four jugs of juice you bought, you received one free box of granola bars! I normally don’t buy those super-sweet sawdusty rectangles, but free? Why not.
The following week, when hunting around for an afternoon snack, I pulled out one of those granola bars. As I ate it, I thought, “Why am I eating this? I don’t like it. It doesn’t taste good, and I will be hungry again in approximately 8 minutes.” I was eating it because it was free and fast. Those two things only get you so far, though. It was not filling or satisfying or… good.
Granola bars were officially added to my growing list of “Things I Will No Longer Buy in a Box.” To fill their place, I decided it was time to make my own. Shocking, I know. I have tried several different recipes, but finally settled on a variation of a recipe that ran in Mix Magazine last summer. The original recipe was created by Jackie Sappington of The Country Cat, a Portland restaurant I’ve wanted to try forever.
These bars are slightly sweet, super dense, and chock-full of good things. With a glass of milk, one square makes a filling, protein-packed snack I feel good about eating and feeding my family. We haven’t bought a box of granola bars in three years, and I haven’t missed them one bit.
Making granola bars is very similar to making homemade granola. Once you find the right ratio of fillers (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.) to binders (honey, syrup, peanut butter, etc.), you can mix and match flavor combinations to your heart’s content. (You can also make our no-bake energy bites or homemade larabars for no-bake options.)
Try dried apricots, chopped almonds, dark chocolate, and flaked coconut. Or chopped cashews, mini chocolate chips, and dried cranberries. Or maybe dried mango, flaxseed, and coconut. Or…
Thick & Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Based on a recipe by Jackie Sappington/Country Cat, featured in Mix Magazine
Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for 3 months.
4 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4-1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. brown rice syrup or corn syrup
1/3 c. honey
2 t. vanilla extract
2 c. chocolate chips, dried fruit, seeds, and/or chopped nuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to line the pan bottom of the pan, leaving several inches hanging over each side to create a sling. Grease the parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, stir together the butter, water, peanut butter, brown rice (or corn) syrup, honey, and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Add 2 cups of chocolate chips, dried fruit, seeds, and/or chopped nuts.
- Press the mixture evenly into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes before lifting the bars out of the pan with the parchment paper sling. Lay on a cutting board and then cut into 12 equal pieces.
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