My husband and son eat granola bars like it’s their job! My son eats at least one every morning, and my husband eats at least one or two during the day or in the middle of the night. Even if I buy them on sale or with coupons, they’re still expensive, and the ones that are the best bargain seem to have the most sugar (or, more likely, high-fructose corn syrup), not to mention preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients. I’ve been working up to making some of my own bars for over a week now, going through my cabinets to make sure I had all the ingredients, and then just trying to find the TIME… finally got to it today!
I started with this recipe from allrecipes.com as a guideline, since its author and reviewers all said it lends itself nicely to modifications.
Dry Ingredients: I wanted to jam-pack these bars with lots of protein and dried fruit, so that they were as healthy as I could make them. Pictured above are the dry ingredients in the large bowl, which include raisins, goji berries, dried cranberries, dried cherries, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped peanuts, wheat germ and chopped pecans. I used about 1/2 cup (instead of the 3/4 cup listed) of brown sugar. The “flour” portion of my version is a mix of whole wheat flour, white flour, ground blanched almonds, and ground flax seed. You could make these gluten-free by using oat flour or another gluten-free flour in place of the wheat flour – I’m sure it would be great!
Wet Ingredients: I stuck to the recipe but changed the 1/2 cup oil to 1/4 cup oil and about 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce. I also diced up 3 strawberries that were “on the edge” and tossed them in the wet mixture.
Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until combined, then press into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper lightly sprayed with vegetable oil.
Make sure to take your time pressing it down well into the pan, because this will keep the bars from becoming crumbly after they are baked.
I used a pizza cutter to score the pan into 18 (3×6) bars while they were still warm, then let them cool before cutting.
Storage: I’m going to individually wrap these in waxed paper, then put them in a bag in the freezer, leaving a few in the fridge for immediate consumption. Don’t forget these have NO PRESERVATIVES, so they are not shelf-stable!
Verdict: my guys love them! I personally would like them a little sweeter and crunchier, but I didn’t make them for me, so I call it a win!
What I’d Do Differently Next Time: I’d like to add some more crunch when I make them again, perhaps some sort of cereal like corn flakes or Kashi, just for more texture. I think I would also add back the oil to its original amount, which wasn’t that much, because I think it, along with the cereal, would give it more crunch. I would also probably make them in a bigger pan, as they were on the thick side (about 1/2 inch; I’d prefer closer to 1/4 inch thickness) and I could have made about 24 thin ones instead of 18 thick ones. I’m also kicking myself because I used the vegetable oil as specified before I thought, hey, I could totally use coconut oil and add some flavor and make these even healthier!
I might also add some flaked coconut in the next go-round, and some mashed ripe banana. I can see this recipe working nicely with banana, peanuts, and maybe a little maple syrup in place of some (not all) of the honey. This batch was a great cupboard-cleaner, but a bit expensive to make all the time with so many ingredients! Nevertheless, it was worth the cost to