As a grad student who commutes across state lines to attend class, I’ve come to learn that it is imperative to have handy, healthy snacks available to stave off hunger and keep myself from succumbing to the dangers of campus dining hall food (read: burgers, bagels, and burritos). Enter, the granola bar.
Store bought granola bars are just too sweet for me, but since I found that they were the easiest thing to snack on during the commute home, I decided to make my own.
The best part about these is that you can adapt them to whatever you have on hand — dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, more sugar, less sugar, whatever. All I know is I usually make this in triple batches because I enjoy them so much.
Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup oat flour (which you can make by pulsing the oats in a blender or food processor until they are a fine powder)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2-3 cups chopped dried fruit and nuts (any combo, though I am partial to a mix of dried apricots, cranberries, prunes, walnuts and almonds)
- optional: flax seeds, coconut, sesame seeds in the fruit/nut portion
- optional: 1/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- 6 Tb olive oil (in place of the butter the original recipe called for)
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 additional TB honey or maple syrup (because I don’t stock the light corn syrup the recipe called for… maybe one day…)
- 1 Tb water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a square pan (8″x8″x2″) with parchment paper, being sure to let some extra paper hang off the sides (all the better to pull out the bars)
- In a large bowl combine oats, oat flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, fruits, and nuts.
- In a medium bowl combine butter/oil, honey/maple syrup, and water.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, along with nut butter if using. Mix with a spatula until evenly distributed and combined.
- Spread the granola mixture into your prepared pan in an even layer, pressing them down firmly.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until they begin to brown on the edges. They will firm up a bit as they cool, so don’t worry of they feel a bit soft when they come out of the oven.
- Allow the granola to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then lift it out of the pan using the parchment paper. Place on a wire wrack to cool completely.
- Once cool, cut the granola into bars or squares using a serrated knife. If they crumble too much, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while first, then continue cutting.
- I usually wrap them individually in plastic or aluminum foil to take to school to enjoy during breaks from 3-hour seminars. Believe me, they offer a much needed sugar rush, what with the dried fruit and honey, so you definitely want small squares. Fuel for the brain!