30 January 2011

BEST Granola Bars

The last few weeks, I've been struggling with breakfast.  I like to cook something on the weekend to last me through my weekday mornings, but I'm normally in the mood for sweets and I just can't have a cinnamon roll every morning before breakfast.  I used to make a protein smoothie every morning, but with the weather being so cold lately, I've wanted my hot coffee in the morning instead of a cold smoothie.  I remembered I had this recipe for granola bars, and remembered how much I like having these for breakfast.

I discovered this recipe about a year ago, when I was looking for a good granola bar recipe.  My issue with store-bought granola bars is that I typically turn to them as a pre-workout snack or a quick breakfast, and they are never big enough.  Plus, I couldn't find a good all-natural granola bar at all.  They were either too hard or had some bizarre ingredients in them that caused a funny flavor.  I just wanted something basic, then I found this recipe and it blew me away.

I like to keep these on hand, just in case I need a quick breakfast or an easy snack.  I used to eat them a lot when I played ultimate, because they have everything I needed to keep my energy up.  This is also a very versatile recipe, and can be adapted to suit your tastes.  These can be as indulgent or as healthy as you like!

I use a combination of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut to flavor mine.  You can also experiment with the butter and sweeteners.  You can use part butter with some vegetable oil for a healthier bar.  You could use all liquid sweeteners, although I like the flavor brown sugar adds.  Using low GI sweeteners like agave nectar will result in a healthier granola bar as well.

Best Ever Granola Bars
adapted from smitten kitchen
2 c quick cooking oats*
1/2 - 3/4 c sugar** (I use half white sugar and half brown sugar)
2 - 3 c dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.***
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/3 c almond butter (or other nut butter) - I get almond butter either at Whole Foods or Fresh Market
6 T melted butter
1/4 c honey (or corn syrup or maple syrup)
2 T agave nectar (or corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey)
1 T water

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Cut a piece of parchment paper 8" wide by about 14" long.  Line an 8"x8" baking dish with the parchment paper, letting the long ends hang over the side of the pan to make "handles".  Spray baking dish lightly with cooking spray.

Whisk together the melted butter, nut butter, sweeteners, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and water.  In a separate bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir together until well blended.  Pour into prepared baking dish and pat down.  I find the easiest way to pat down sticky ingredients like these is to wet my hands so the granola doesn't stick to them.

Bake the bars for 30-40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.  Let the bars cool completely in the pan.  Use the parchment paper handles to pull the bars out of the pan, then cut them into individual bars.  Wrap individually and store at room temperature.  Then they are ready whenever you are!

* The original recipe calls for 1 2/3 c oats and 1/3 c oat flour.  You can make oat flour by pulsing the oats in a food processor.  I skip this step.  It results in a crumblier granola bar, which I don't mind.  I would recommend adding the oat flour if you want your bars to hold together a little better.

** The amount of sugar you use will depend on how sweet you want your granola and how sweet your chunky ingredients are.  I don't like a super sweet granola bar and have a hard time finding unsweetened dried fruit and coconut, so I use a scant 1/2 c sugar.

*** There are endless combinations of fruit and nuts you can use.  For this batch, I used 1c cranberry/cherry/pecan snack mix from Whole Foods, 3/4c chocolate chips, 3/4c dried apricots, and 1/2c pecans.  The apricots in mine are too chunky, so next time I would cut them smaller and add fewer.  I was planning on adding coconut, but I didn't have any in the freezer.  When I make these for Jonathan, I use cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried bananas, and chocolate chips.  You should really just experiment with flavors you like and see what kinds of combinations you come up with!


  1. Please add what your 2-3 c dried fruits/nuts, etc are in this recipe

  2. Whoops, I meant to include that. It should be updated now. Every time I make them though, I do something a little different depending on what I have on hand and whether I am making them for just me to eat, or for Jonathan to eat as well.