I am hesitant to put this down on paper (as you will) since writing it will seem to make it true. But alas, there is no avoiding it. This summer has come to an end, and not just because New England seems to be on strike with producing warm weather.
Zach and I must return to work as teachers tomorrow. Siggghhh.
I know, I know… we are lucky we had a summer vacation at all. Sorry, I got sulky there for a second. Let me look at the silver lining! For one thing, I can get back to problem solving for this blog and really hone in on the real food for busy people aspect… I have drifted away from this since I have had inordinate amounts of time for the past six weeks to make whatever cooking creations from scratch I wanted! So, good news for the blog.
For another thing, back to school means more snacks, which I like to keep as healthy and as energizing as possible, as well as easy-to-make. So, without further ado (and complaining), the first back-to-school snack on the menu: DIY chewy granola bars!
What is awesome about these granola bars? I will tell you.
- You can basically use any combination of ingredients you want! This recipe consists of oats, nuts/seeds, and dried fruit, bound together with coconut oil and sweetened with honey.
- These are no-bake granola bars, which makes them really easy! The method is similar to making rice crispy treats- just heat up some liquid ingredients, add the dry, and press into a baking dish and allow to cool. Boom. Done.
- They stick together! There is no crumbly mess! (well, maybe there are one or two crumbs, but almost every other granola bar recipe I have made has resulted more in granola rather than a bar, which is less portable and totally not as fun).
- They are super duper healthy. No refined sugar, good-for-you coconut oil, and lots of fiber and good fats from the oats, nuts, and seeds. It will keep you going for a long time.
- Did I mention they taste amazing? Especially since you can add whatever fruits and flavors you want, catering it to your own tastes.
When I made these, I used what I had available. I had dried figs leftover from a recipe I made months ago, plus some almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. I have a never-ending amount of chia seeds (anyone else have this problem? They really should come in smaller packages, if you ask me.) so I threw some of those in there as well, and since I made a delicious coconut cardamom granola a while ago, I added cardamom for flavor, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, which paired VERY well with the figs.
In the recipe below, I explain the ratios I used for these cardamom fig granola bars, as well as how to add your own ingredients. On my mental list of future granola bar combinations:
- Orange cranberry (I’ll add orange zest as a spice and dried cranberries to the bars)
- Ginger molasses (I’ll substitute molasses for the honey)
- Carrot cake (think I can use shredded carrots in place of dried fruit?)
- Honey almond (simple, no extra spices and omit the fruit)
- Peanut butter (add peanuts and peanut butter to the mix)
- Chocolate coconut (coconut flakes and cocoa powder)
If you make these and find a magical combination, or if you have any other ideas for combos, please share it below!
One important note: it is very important to press these into the baking dish very well- as much as you can. I used my Lodge Cast-Iron Grill Press to make sure it was sufficiently pressed, but you can also just use your hands. Just cover the top of the granola bars with parchment paper and press away!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sulk because summer is over. (and by sulk, I mean eat a granola bar) :-)
DIY No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars
- 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
- 1/4 cup honey or other sweetener, such as molasses, agave, etc.
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- other spices/flavors I used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup nuts/seeds I used 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, and 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 cup chopped dried fruit I used chopped dried figs. You can omit the fruit if you want.
- Melt coconut oil, honey, salt, and other spices/flavors in a medium saucepan.
- When liquid mixture melts and becomes a bit foamy, turn the heat down to low, add the oats and stir to coat.
- Add the nuts/seeds, and stir to coat.
- Finally, add the dried fruit, and fold in to the mixture.
- Continue cooking on low heat for just a couple minutes (this will soften the ingredients slightly before you cool them, allowing them to stick together better).
- Meanwhile, line a small baking dish (mine measures 6" by 8") with parchment paper or plastic wrap, leaving the sides of the paper/wrap long.
- Add the mixture to the dish; press with the back of a wooden spoon so it is evenly spread out.
- Fold the parchment paper/plastic wrap over the granola so the top is covered (get more if necessary). Press the granola aggressively, so it is as packed as you can make it. I used my grill press, but you can also use a dish or cup, or your hands. Just make sure it is well packed and evenly distributed!
- Place in refrigerator and allow to cool completely- at least two hours, but I recommend overnight.
- Remove granola from parchment paper- it should be in one big block. Cut into 6-8 bars, and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for about 2 weeks.