Homemade Granola Bars

One thing I love to eat but hate to buy is granola bars. Their size and nutritional value never seems to live up to their price. But they're such a convenient snack to grab when you're running out the door. The only solution to this very first-world problem is to make them yourself. That way you know exactly what's in them and a pan of about twelve bars costs less than five bucks.

With this in mind, when my friend Susie posted her recipe for homemade granola bars on her blog, Clean Eats Pink Treats, I immediately pinned it. That was six months ago. Susie used a Barefoot Contessa recipe for inspiration and made some healthy additions and substitutions with ingredients like flax, coconut oil and Splenda. If you're like me and don't have these ingredients already in your pantry, please don't let that hold you back for half a year. As I discovered, this recipe is incredibly flexible. I didn't have ground flax, so I increased the coconut oil. All out of almonds, so I used chopped walnuts. Brown sugar, instead of Splenda. Easy peasy. I also decided at the last minute to chuck in some chocolate chips. One thing you should remember, though, is that the mixture is warm, so you should let it cool a bit before you add chips or even just sprinkle them on top after baking. Otherwise they will melt immediately into chocolate soup. Still tasty, but messy.

Long story short (sort of), Susie's subtitle "ridiculously delicious bars" is spot on. They were a huge hit in our house and a second batch is requested for this week. I hope you'll try them too, experiment with the ingredients and let me know how they turned out in the comments below.

Homemade Granola Bars
via Clean Eats Pink Treats

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds (I used walnuts instead)
1/2 cup ground flax (or 4 tbsp coconut oil)
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar (or 4 tbsp regular brown sugar)
1 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries and dates)

Preheat oven to 350. Spread oats and almonds on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and reduce oven heat to 300. Combine oats and almonds with ground flax in a bowl.

In a sauce pan over medium heat combine honey, peanut butter, vanilla, coconut oil, and brown sugar. Cook together until its well blended and smooth. Remove from heat and pour over oats, almonds and flax. Add in dried fruit and stir well to combine. Pour into the bottom of a 9x9 pan lined with foil or parchment. Bake for 30 minutes.

Allow the pan to cool for a few hours to bring to room temperature before cutting. If you cut them too soon, they'll be really crumbly. Store in an air tight container.

[Update: I made this again with the flax and they came out super dry and crumbly. I recommend skipping the flax and using more coconut oil.]