Kids Loves Granola
Being a native Californian living outside the state, I’ve had to endure teasing from friends for being a “tree hugger”, “valley girl”, “granola-eater”, etc. over the years. I don’t mind – I’m all of the above and proud of it. 🙂 And truth be told, there is a special place in my heart for granola. I used to eat bowlfuls of the stuff in one sitting. Granola is considered a “health food” by some, and true – it is better than snacking on a processed candy bar, but it’s pretty calorie dense. These days, I eat it a little more judiciously, sprinkling it on yogurt, ice cream, and oatmeal for an added crunch and extra layer of flavor.
I started baking my own granola years ago when I was pregnant because I wanted a healthier version than I could find in stores. The great thing about homemade granola is that you can customize it to suit your tastes. Similar to nut butters, it is easy to make, costs less, and is a very kid-friendly snack to make with kids.
I get my son involved at the very beginning of the process by letting him help choose what kinds of dried fruits and nuts to put in our creation. He likes to help spoon them into bags at the store.
There was a time where I’d make a new batch as soon as my previous one ran out just so I always had some on hand to snack on, and at this point I can’t even remember the last time I made any… I’ve just been buying them from the store.
Not that there’s anything wrong with store-bought bars, but… they’re kind of boring. Or at least they get boring. And when your options are super limited because of allergies, they get boring pretty darn fast. Speaking of which, why is it that peanuts, or traces of them, are in literally 80% of bars? Especially the ones that look the best? Asking for a friend…
Anyways! Long story short, I’m back to making my own granola bars – soft and chewy granola bars – and I’m sharing them with you because: a) they’re delicious, b) we love them, and c) you might possibly be in the same boring-granola-bar predicament.
The basic recipe is this:
A. Base ingredients:
Oats , raw nuts, seeds, sometimes I add dried coconut here – you can also add different spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Oil, butter (you could probably omit this if you have enough of the sticky stuff to hold the base ingredients together, but I haven’t tried it yet)
Honey, Maple Syrup, Rice Syrup, Molasses, Agave Syrup, Brown Sugar, mashed banana, applesauce
D. Add Ins:
Other roasted nuts and seeds, Dried fruit, chocolate chips, anything you can think of!
- Mix Base Ingredients together in a bowl.
- Mix Fats and Sweeteners together in another bowl until emulsified. Pour over Base Ingredients and mix until coated.
- Bake in oven.
- Let cool. Eat.
There are so many recipes out there to try, and the ratios of A, B, C, and D vary greatly. I suggest playing around with it to find what you like best. This is the recipe my son and I came up with. The ratios and ingredients are based on this recipe from The Barefoot Contessa, but I lowered the temperature, reduced the oil, added maple syrup and brown sugar and cinnamon and changed the ratios of the add-ins.
HOW TO MAKE EASY HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS
- Mix the dry ingredients first! The recipe calls for quick oats but you can definitely use old-fashioned oats if that’s what you have on hand. The texture of the bars will just be a little chewier.
- The honey + almond butter act as the glue for the oats, while the almond milk softens them a bit to make them perfectly soft and chewy. It’s like eating an oatmeal cookie in bar form.
- Add-ins are completely customizable! Mix together things like chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut shreds, etc. to create different flavour combinations. This is the part that cures the boring-granola-bar predicament since you can swap out flavour combinations and always have something different.
- When pressing the uncooked granola bar mix into your baking pan, make sure to spread it out evenly and use a spatula to pack it down slightly… this will ensure that your bars don’t fall apart.
- I added almond flour to make the bars a little more cookie-ish, but you can use an equal amount of oat flour if you don’t have almond on hand.
- Oh, and if you need these bars to be nut-free, replace the almond flour with oat flour, the almond butter with soy nut butter, and the almond milk with another non-dairy alternative like rice, oat, or soy.
- You can also easily make these bars vegan by replacing the honey with brown rice syrup and using non-dairy chocolate chips (if using).
- And finally, if you need these bars to be gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats.
3 cups oats
1 cup chopped raw almonds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup dried coconut
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup canola oil
½ chopped dried figs
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup roasted, salted cashews
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Whisk honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and canola oil together in a small bowl until emulsified.
- Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and mix until all the dry ingredients are coated.
- Spread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes. Stir granola and continue baking for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until granola is golden.
- Remove sheet from oven and allow granola to cool, stirring occasionally. When cooled, mix with remaining dried fruits and cashews.
Makes just under 2 lbs. of granola