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I love granola bars, but I’ve discovered they can be 1) pricey and 2) full of weird ingredients and corn syrup. As a general rule, I try to avoid ingesting corn syrup on principle. I know people debate whether or not your body processes it the same way as sugar, but it’s still a highly refined sweetener. Yes, my recipe includes some sugar, but its main sweetener is honey, and it certainly doesn’t have corn syrup!
I’ve been making granola bars for about five years now. I know I originally found (and then promptly modified) the recipe on someone’s blog, but I haven’t been able to locate the post to give credit to my original inspiration. It was so long ago I’m, sadly, not really surprised – lots of blogs just don’t stick around that long.
What I love about making my own granola bars is how they’re completely customizable. In the example, I used peanuts and raisins because I had them on hand. I actually usually use peanuts, but I really love using Craisins! You can use any nut and dried fruit combination you’d like – have fun and experiment! I added wheat germ, but it is optional. You can also use flax seed, if you’d like. If you do use flax seed, make sure you grind it (or purchase pre-ground seeds) because your body can’t access the nutrients in whole seeds.
- 2 cups of old fashioned oats
- ¼ cup of wheat germ
- ½ cup of peanuts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup of raisins
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- ⅔ cup of honey
- ¼ cup of light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Prepare a large baking dish (I always use a 9x13 glass casserole dish) by coating it lightly with butter. Coat the bottom and sides completely.
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When it's ready, place the oats in a thin layer in the bottom of a baking dish and bake, shaking/stirring occasionally, until they are slightly browned and nutty smelling. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Stir in the honey and brown sugar and mix until fully combined.
- Combine the oats, nuts, and fruit in a large bowl.
- Off the heat, stir the vanilla and cinnamon into the honey/butter mixture.
- Add the honey/butter to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat everything. This honey mixture serves as the glue that holds the granola bars together.
- Once everything is fully coated, transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Spread it as evenly as possible across the dish's bottom.
- Cover the entire granola bar mixture with a sheet of parchment paper, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap and then find books or other weights that fit into the pan. Stack as much weight inside the pan as you can (within reason, of course!) and allow it to sit for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
- Cut into bars and enjoy!
It sounds foolish, but pressing the mixture down with books really improves how well the bars hold together! If you’re wondering how to roughly chop nuts, the easiest way I’ve found is putting them in a freezer bag and crushing with a heavy pot or pan. A few good whacks from a pan will “chop” them easily.
Storing these granola bars is simple – you can place them in ziplock bags, a reusable container, or wrap them individually. If you’re having trouble getting them to stick together, storing them in the refrigerator helps them stay put. They’re good for at least a week – I’ve never been able to resist eating all of them for any longer than that!
Have you made your own granola bars yet? Are you ready to try?