I posted a photo recently of some homemade granola bars to my Instagram account and a few friends asked for the recipe, so here goes:
The “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” bar.
SUPER EASY, SUPER TASTY HOMEMADE (refined sugar-free and organic) GRANOLA/ENERGY BARS:
All I really have to say is: Take a bunch of tasty stuff that you love, throw it in a bowl, mix, press in a pan, bake, freeze, and …. you’re done. It’s really just that simple, but here’s what I put in mine. You can add, subtract, substitute, omit, or do whatever you please with yours.
NOTE: I don’t measure when I make these, so I apologize for not listing measurements. These are so forgiving that you can add as much or as little of just about anything. Also, it depends on how many you want to make. Just make sure your base ingredients (oats, rice puffs, or cereal/granola) make up the majority of the recipe. Otherwise, adjust everything else to your pallet/preference.
- Oats (Bob’s Red Mill organic, whole – NOT the instant kind). Available gluten-free too, if you want to make a GF version.
- Rice puffs (or Kashi’s high-protein Go-Lean Crunch Cereal – or a pre-made dry granola from the bulk section – watch out for the ones high in fat and sugar though)
- Coconut Flour (maybe 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup or so). Not necessary, but adds some weight to the bars.
- Walnuts, chopped
- Almonds, chopped or whole (plain or roasted, it’s up to you, just don’t get the salted/flavored kind)
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
- Dates, Chopped
- Chocolate Chips
- A dash of sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon or so)
- Almond Butter (or peanut butter)
- Majool Dates, chopped
- Agave (you could also use honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup).
- 1 teaspoon almond extract*
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*
- **You can add a small amount of coconut oil as well, if you’d like.
DIRECTIONS, TWO WAYS (BAKED & UNBAKED)
- Pick a dish that fits the quantity you’re making (a 9″x9″ baking dish, a 9″x13″ baking dish, or a baking sheet with higher sides). Line it with parchment paper.
- Mix all dry ingredients in a BIG bowl.
- Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in about three batches. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until dry ingredients are moist but not wet. You want things to be sticking together. Too wet? Add more dry ingredients. Too dry? Add more wet. It’s not rocket science.
- Pour mixture into your pan. It will be STICKY. You will want to coat your hands with some coconut oil (canola would work too), and press the mixture down as tightly as you can, making sure to get into the corners.
- You can now place the dish in the freezer for them to firm up. DO NOT FREEZE at this point though. You still need to cut them.
- When they are firm, remove the ENTIRE recipe by lifting it out of the pan by the parchment paper. Cut the bars with a sharp knife into about 2″ by 2″ squares. I cut all the way through the paper. That way, when I stack them to store them, they already have little parchment paper “dividers” between the layers.
- You can now wrap them in wax paper and store in an airtight container in the freezer, removing them as needed or store them in the refrigerator.
BAKED: If you want a chewier, more “fluffy” version of a granola bar… do this:
Add the equivalent of 1 to 2 eggs worth of egg substitute (Ener-g egg replacer, vegan) to the mixture. I wouldn’t recommend adding real egg. I think about packing these up in my pack for really long hikes or bike rides, or camping/backpacking adventures, etc and I don’t like the idea of having real egg in there. Plus, the bake time isn’t very long, so I’m not sure real egg would have enough time/heat to cook all the way. Take it or leave it.
-DIRECTIONS: Follow all of the same directions through #5 above, but then put them in a pre-heated 250* oven for about 12 to 15 minutes (you don’t want them to brown, you just want them to cook slightly). Remove and let cool and then continue with steps #6-8 above.
*Note: If using chocolate chips in the baked version, they will melt. So, the texture of the chocolate in the bars won’t be the same as the unbaked version. The chocolate sections will firm back up again after you put them in the freezer though. Be warned in either case that if you choose to put chocolate chips in your bars that if you leave them out or carry them in warm conditions, they will become a bit sticky/messy as the chocolate melts. Just keep them wrapped in wax paper and you should be fine.
OTHER OPTIONS: You can add just about anything…
- Other “base” ingredients: Oat bran, wheat germ, flax seeds
- Fruit: Any dried fruit (try to find the ones that are naturally sweet, without added sugar), or dried coconut.
- Nuts/Seeds: Macadamia, Pistachio, Pecan… whatever you like. Any nut/seed butter can be used.
- Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, pumpkin pie spice
- Protein powder: a plain soy or whey protein powder could be added.
The point is, you can customize this one million ways to Sunday, just add whatever you like.
– It’s easier and most of the time cheaper to find your favorite trail mix in the bulk section and just buy that to add to the mix, instead of buying each individual item. I’ve never tried to add any trail mix containing yogurt-covered or chocolate-covered items though, so I’m not sure how those would work out – I assume they would be tasty, but I would recommend going with the no-bake version if you use those.
IDEAS that I’ve had for other bars (but have yet to try).
The “German Chocolate Cake” bar: oats, dates, agave, coconut oil, chocolate chips, dried cherries, finely shredded coconut and a pinch of sea salt. You could even add some raw cocoa powder for a more chocolate based bar.
The Amaretto: Oats, dates, agave, almond butter, almonds, dried cherries, a little amaretto or almond extract, and a pinch of sea salt.
The “Elvis”: Oats, agave, peanut butter, mashed banana (or home-made dried banana chips), chocolate chips, and a little vanilla extract. Want to get crazy? Add a small amount of bacon grease as your oil. Weird? Probably. Tasty? Probably.
Bananas Foster: Oats, agave, dates, mashed bananas, molasses, rum extract.
Black Forest Bar: Oats, agave, dates, almond butter, dark chocolate, dried cherries, almond.
…. I could go on and on.
Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl. Combine dates, agave, extracts, and almond butter in smaller bowl.
Add dry ingredients to wet in batches until well combined.
Line a baking sheet with high sides with parchment paper and pour ingredients on to sheet.
Press the mixture down as compact as you can.
I had a bit extra, so I put it in a mini muffin tins to make “granola bites”!
The mini-granola bites are adorable and bite sized.
Cut them up!
Wrap in wax paper and keep frozen or refrigerated until ready to eat. – Enjoy!