Nearly 7 years ago, one of my favorite high school teachers was doing a bike race in NW Ohio and stayed overnight with my husband and I. Along with her bike gear and luggage, she brought along some healthy homemade granola bars and asked us if we wanted to try one. Um…yes, please! After that first DELICIOUS chewy bite, I immediately asked her for the recipe. Thank you Ms. Davis!
Even after adapting the original recipe to meet our family’s needs, I can’t even begin to tell you how much these granola bars have changed our lives. Literally. We learned how to eat whole grains with them…They have brought new meaning to the word travel. They can be made in a college dorm room (no oven needed!) or packed in the van by a busy mom on the go. We have gifted them to families in our church and made them for friends on the eve of “the big game.” I have brought them to parties, pool sides, county fairs, playdates and to my old office job for a healthy snack. They have transformed the idea of something sweet after dinner and they have become part of our favorite breakfast. Heck, I even ate one right after the birth of our second child. In fact, these bars have tagged along through so many life events that I’m actually quite emotional about them.
The original recipe below is all you need to make them your own. In my mind, there can be no better food for anyone. They are naturally gluten free, dairy free and soy free. They can easily be made vegan, organic, and nut free (will explain how!). Even my anti-microwave friends can make them using the stovetop. Yep. Adaptations with these bars are limitless as long as you stick to two simple rules…
Rule #1: Ratio is key
5 ½ cups dry : 1 ¾ cup wet
Rule #2: Gotta use a thick, sticky syrup:
Brown rice syrup (my choice), corn syrup or tapioca syrup
My friends, may I present to you this amazing no-bake granola bar? No recipe in my box has ever been more requested than this one. Go ahead. Try it. Adapt it. Love it. I guarantee you. Your life will never be the same.
The basic recipe I am showing uses these 10 ingredients, but remember it’s just a starting point!
**Can ALL be adapted!**
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups crisp rice cereal (i.e. rice krispies)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup coconut
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup brown rice, corn or tapioca syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 T. honey
1 t. pure vanilla extract
Start by chopping up ½ cup of your choice of nuts and ½ cup of your choice of dried fruit. Here, I have pictured our favorite combo: almonds and cherries. I have also tried pecans with apricots, mixed nuts with blueberries, and walnuts with cranberries. All were good!
Pour 2 cups oats, 2 cups crisp rice cereal, ½ cup coconut and the nuts and fruits into a very large bowl.
Introducing Rule #1. Ratio is key. You can use any dry ingredients here as long as you have an equal amount of 5 ½ cups. For example, need a nut-free version? Replace them with ½ cup of toasted wheat germ. Want some seeds in your diet? Add ¼ cup sunflower and ¼ pumpkin seeds while lessening the oats to 1 ½ cups. The possibilities are endless. Here is a picture of some alternative ingredients that I buy in bulk and keep on hand for granola bars:
¼ – ½ cup: Wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips
¼ cup: cocoa or carob powder
2 -3 Tbs: flax seeds or hemp seeds (can be ground) or chia seeds
Stir the dry ingredients together!
Now comes the fun…I mean, wet part! In a smaller microwaveable bowl, add ¾ cup creamy peanut butter (or sunflower butter for nut-free!), ¼ cup dark brown sugar and ¾ cup brown rice, corn or tapioca syrup. Hence, Rule #2. Because these are not baked, you can’t use any other syrup besides these three kinds. Over the years, I have tried to fill all or part of the ¾ cup with maple syrup, honey, agave nectar and even molasses, but the end result did not hold together well. So, unless you prefer crumbly granola bars, stick with the three choices! The original recipe from Ms. Davis called for corn syrup, but my husband and I prefer the healthier benefits of brown rice syrup (approx. $4.50/jar in the grocery health foods section). It’s a bit more expensive, but you can make 2.5 batches of granola bars with the standard 1 lb, 5 oz jar. Not too bad.
Make sure that you have 1 ¾ cup total in your bowl here. So, if you don’t want to use sugar, pump up the syrup to 1 cup. Stir it all together and microwave on High for 1 minute. You are at the halfway melting point and this is what it will look like…
Pop it back in the microwave for another minute on High and stir the hot mixture once again. Now, add your 2 T honey (vegan friends, replace with molasses!) and 1 tsp. of vanilla.
Stir again until nice and smooth…and try not to lick that spatula!
Slowly pour the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir, baby stir.
After stirring well, this is what it will look like! Slightly gooey, sticky and oh so yummy…
Pour it all into your favorite 13×9 like this. It should come out of the bowl very easily…
Now, press it down hard with a flat spatula. As you can see from the picture, I like to use the floor for leverage AND it allows my two-year old to join me. Please don’t judge my dry skin hand. It’s been a long winter, people! 🙂
Leave them out on the counter until cooled. Then feel free to put them in the fridge if you like them chilled, but they do not have to be kept in the refrigerator. Depending on size, cut 12 – 16 bars out of the pan. You should eat them within 2 weeks or wrap them up and pop them in the freezer for long term storage.
I’m telling you. These will change your life.
- **Can ALL be adapted!**
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups crisp rice cereal (i.e. rice krispies)
- ½ cup chopped nuts
- ½ cup chopped dried fruit
- ½ cup coconut
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¾ cup brown rice, corn or tapioca syrup
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 T. honey
- 1 t. pure vanilla extract
- Chop ½ cup of your choice of nuts and ½ cup of your choice of dried fruit.
- Pour 2 cups oats, 2 cups crisp rice cereal, ½ cup coconut and the nuts and fruits into a very large bowl.
- Stir the dry ingredients together.
- In a smaller microwaveable bowl, stir together ¾ cup creamy peanut butter ¼ cup dark brown sugar and ¾ cup syrup.
- Microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir, and then microwave another 1 minute.
- Stir in your 2 T honey and 1 tsp. of vanilla.
- Slowly pour the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Pour it all into your favorite 13x9 pan.
- Press it down hard with a flat spatula.
- Let them cool and then cut 12-16 bars out of the pan.
- Can be refrigerated, frozen or left on the counter.
Meredith is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom living in NW Ohio. She loves to adapt recipes to her family’s eclectic tastes and is learning to provide nourishment for any bellies who walk through the door at a moment’s notice. If not in the kitchen, you’ll find Meredith in front of her sewing machine or spending quality time with her home and church families. Life goes by so fast!