Like a lot of moms, I love the idea of feeding my children preservative free, healthy foods all the time. The key word there is idea. Convenience often trumps that desire. One of Bug’s (and mine!) favorite snack is a granola bar… “granilla bar” if you ask him. We have a shelf in our pantry that has been deemed the ‘snack shelf’ and it is stocked with store bought granola bars, raisins and Craisins. We do at least try to buy the ‘healthier’ of the granola bars available (my new favorites are Quaker Real Medleys), but there still has to be not-so-good stuff going into them just to preserve their shelf life.
So, I sought out an easy-to-make, homemade granola bar recipe. Turns out, you don’t really need a recipe for granola bars. You just need a combination of oats, fruits, nuts, seeds and something sticky and slightly sweet to make it gel together. I used the base recipe from the Minimalist Baker, and then added whatever I thought looked yummy. And yummy they were!
Keep in mind that making granola bars is not necessarily something that will save you money. But it is something that you can feel really good about feeding your kids… and yourself.
Here’s what you need: (adapted from The Minimalist Baker)
Yield: 8-16 bars depending on thickness
- 1 cup packed pitted dates
- 1/4 honey (you can sub maple syrup or agave)
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (you can sub almond butter, or probably any other nut butter)
- 1 cup slivered almonds (you can use whole ones and loosely chop them)
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, loosely chopped
- 1/4 cup flax seeds
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (mostly so I could tell Bug there was chocolate in them!)
This is totally optional, but I toasted the oats and flax seeds on 350′ for about 10 minutes.
Throw the dates in a food processor and process until it forms a dough like consistency. Mine turned into a ball. Put everything except for the peanut butter and honey into a large mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan on low heat, stir together peanut butter and honey until it is warm and melty. Add peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix it all together. You could use a spoon, but I totally used my (very clean) hands.
Line an 8×8 or other small pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Put granola mixture in pan and press down firmly until uniformly flattened. Cover with plastic wrap, put in the fridge for 20 minutes. Cut into desired size bars and voila! You have super delicious granola bars!
These will keep for a few days in an airtight container on your counter, or for up to a week in the fridge. They will keep for a few months if you freeze them. We froze ours and actually ate them right out of the freezer. We thought they tasted better that way! They only needed to thaw for a few minutes.