Homemade Granola Bars (With Low Refined Sugars!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I've been on a mission to make healthy(-ish) granola bars for our family.  My daughter has a passion for chocolate (like her mama!) and also loves granola bars.  And as I mentioned in my post yesterday, her appetite rose astronomically a few months ago and I could not keep up on the granola bars!  Plus, I read the ingredients one day on the organic brand we had been getting from Costco and it had as much sugar as a candy bar.  I'm all about moderation, but I really don't want or need her to crash an hour after eating her "healthy" granola bar.  Plus, I wanted to save some dough.

I've made probably 10 different granola bar recipes (from every recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe, Everyday Reading, and other products of google searches that I can't remember), but still felt like the products were akin to eating a cookie. Don't get me wrong--they were delightful!  But I wanted a granola bar that was more hearty than sugary.  I also wanted them thin, but chewy; and to hold their shape. (The bars pictured here were before I lowered the sugar a little more, so these are thicker than mine now turn out.)

After a lot of experimentation, I've nailed down a new go-to recipe for our little family that is based on this one more than all the others I tried.  My recipe has no refined sugar besides the M&M's and shredded coconut, but it has other forms of natural sweeteners instead and less of that, overall, than other recipes.  How's that for balance!   (PS: I discovered that every time I tried using chocolate chips, they melted all over the recipe and that's not what I was going for.  I loved it with cashews, but my kids picked them out.  Feel free to add a cup or more if you love them like I do!)

Finally, this recipe makes a big batch (it's cooked on a cookie sheet), so I cut the bars up and freeze most of them.  One recipe lasts at least a month around here.  If I'm going to take some time to make granola bars, I'm going to make a lot of them so I'm not cooking them up every few days.  Because that's just not going to happen!

Three tips: 1) Use parchment paper or a silmat liner; 2) Take the granola bars out just as the edges are browning.  Otherwise, you'll cry when you cut up your bars and they're all burnt on the bottom; 3) When ready to eat, store these in the fridge so they hold their shape better!  (I freeze up three separate containers of these and just take out one container at a time.)

Feel free to substitute things if you like!  And please, let me know how yours turn out.

Truth: The bars pictured here are cut thicker than I make mine now.
Homemade Granola Bars, with low refined sugars
6 cups old fashioned oats
1-2 cups shredded coconut (I usually use sweetened, as that's what my store carries)
(Optional 1 cup of chopped nuts)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups of M&M's

Turn on oven to 350 degrees, F.  Place oats in a blender.  Pulse a few times so the oats are partly blended, partly whole.  (Having both helps keep the granola bars together.)  Place oats in large bowl with shredded coconut, optional nuts, and salt.

In a saucepan, put coconut oil, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, and water.  On medium high heat, stir until these ingredients have blended together nicely.  No need to boil--just dissolve those ingredients together.  Take off heat, then add vanilla.

Pour liquid ingredients over the large bowl of dry ingredients. Fold it in partway.  Add M&M's.  Finish folding in the wet to the dry.  Spread onto a cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper or a silmat.  Bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Take out as soon as edges are browning.  Allow the bars to cool completely before lifting out of the cookie sheet (by grabbing on to the parchment paper).  Slice into preferable sizes.  Freeze most of the bars in bags or tupperware containers, and refrigerate the ones you want to eat within the next week.  Store in fridge!

2 comments:

  1. YUM YUM YUM! These looks delicious :) And I love that there are colorful M&Ms. A bit of chocolate always makes granola bars better!

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  2. This is the best news ever!!!!!!! I have made so many recipes I didn't like but I would bet kit's life on your baking skills so I can't wait to make this one!!!! Are the exclamation marks any indication of my excitement????!!!

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