I always have some good dark chocolate, usually Taza, for an immediate quality sugar fix. A small amount of rich chocolate is great for my immediate, post lunch sugar cravings. But later in the afternoon I need something a bit more substantial. I usually try to have a piece of fruit on hand, and keep some almond butter in my desk for dipping and smearing. Dried fruit and nuts are good staples, too. I often keep hummus and cut up veggies in my work fridge, for more savory cravings. But lately I've been stocked up on an afternoon snack that fills all these requirements. Slightly sweet, very hearty, a little savory and loaded with health granola bars.
The biggest challenge I've found with homemade granola bars is getting them to hold together and making them chewy. In a granola bar or cookie, I always prefer chewy over crispy.
This recipe definitely got it right. Its loosely based on a Smitten Kitchen recipe, but liberally adapted and I think a bit healthier.
Feel free to be just as liberal with your adaptation. The basic proportions of dry to wet are all that really matter, but you can use whatever kinds of fruits and nuts and grains and oils and syrups that you prefer. That's the best thing about granola and granola bars - they can be totally personalized to your taste (or to whatever happens to be in your cupboards!).
Chewy Granola Bars
1 2/3 cups rolled oats
3 Tbl sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/3 cup wheat bran
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups mixed chopped dried fruit and nuts (I used dried mangoes, cherries, banana chips, crystallized ginger, ground flax seeds, slivered almonds, sunflowers seeds, and unsweetened flaked coconut)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbl grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave
1 Tbl pure maple syrup
1 Tbl water
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup almond butter
- Preheat oven to 350º
- line a 7" x 11" x 2" baking sheet with parchment paper, so it hangs over the edges. Brush sides of pan and parchment with oil.
- Stir together all dry ingredients, through the fruit and nuts, in a large bowl until well incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients through almond butter until just combined.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until all dry ingredients are moist and coated.
- Spread mixture into prepared baking pan and use spatula to smooth out the top.
- Bake edges are browned and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Center will still seem soft.
- Let cool on rack, then pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Bars will harden and be easier to cut
- Lift out of pan using overhanging parchment and place on cutting board. Cut bars in half, then thirds, then half down middle. You should have a dozen bars.
- Store in airtight container at room temperature. If very humid and warm in your kitchen, store in fridge.