You guys. I didn’t work at all from Friday through Monday, and it was glorious. I brought my work with me to Memphis, but I opted for sleeping in, reading and watching the Olympics instead. I also brought these granola bars with me, tucked into my bag next to my neglected laptop, and I’m so glad I did.
No time for breakfast? Granola bars to the rescue. Hungry on the plane? Granola bars sure beat pretzels. Long stretch between lunch and dinner? Again, granola bars. They kept my blood sugar levels stable, and kept me from turning into a cranky, hypoglycemic mess.
I can attest that these no-bake bars, which are made with oats, nuts, and coconut, and naturally sweetened with honey (or maple syrup) are some effective, energy-rich treats. I’m never traveling without them again. They would also be great snacks for lunch bags and hungry kids who have just arrived home from school. They’re much more tasty and offer more sticking power than any of the store-bought options I encountered as a kid. Granola bars are the answer!
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1¾ cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a food processor or blender to break them up)
- 1 cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes (shredded coconut should work, too)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Line a 9-inch square baker with two strips of criss-crossed parchment paper, cut to fit neatly against the base and up the sides. The parchment paper will make it easy for you to slice the bars later.
- Toast the almonds for maximum flavor (you can skip this step, but your bars won't be quite as awesome): In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and starting to turn lightly golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a medium mixing bowl.
- To the mixing bowl, add the oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt. Stir until blended.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, measure out 1 cup almond butter. Top with ½ cup honey, followed by the vanilla extract. Whisk until well blended. (If you must, you can gently warm the liquid mixture in the microwave or on the stovetop.)
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a big spoon to mix them together until the two are evenly combined and no dry oats remain. The drier the mixture, the more firm the bars will be, so stir in extra oats if the mixture seems wet. Conversely, if you used a super thick almond butter (cough, Justin's), you might need to drizzle in another tablespoon of honey to help it all stick together.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared square baker. Use your spoon to arrange the mixture fairly evenly in the baker, then use the bottom of a flat, round surface (like a short, sturdy drinking glass) to pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible. (If the mixture keeps sticking to the glass, cover the base of the glass with a small square of parchment paper.)
- Cover the baker and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. This gives the oats time to absorb moisture so the granola bars can set.
- When you’re ready to slice, lift the bars out of the baker by grabbing both pieces of parchment paper on opposite corners. Use a sharp chef's knife to slice the mixture into 4 even rows and 4 even columns (these "bars" stick together better in a square shape).
- For portability, you can wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Bars keep well for a couple of days at room temperature, but I recommend storing individually wrapped bars in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer for best flavor. They'll keep for several months in the freezer.
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup instead of honey.
Make it gluten free: Use certified gluten-free oats.
Make it nut free: I think you could use sunbutter instead of almond butter, and replace the almonds with pepitas. The end result will taste different, of course, but I think it will still be delicious.
Change it up: Virtually any combination of chopped nuts, seeds, coconut and/or dried fruit (chopped if larger than a raisin) would work in this recipe. You'll just need about 2 cups total, to replace the 1 cup almonds and 1 cup coconut used here.
If you love this recipe: Check out more granola recipes here!