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Celebrate National Granola Bar Day!
Granola bars have long been a trusted “go to” snack for campers, so naturally, a special day has been designated to recognize these healthy treats. Here are five tasty ways you can celebrate National Granola Bar Day on January 21:
Apple Pie Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
½ cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dates
¼ cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dried apples, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the oats in a blender or food processor and pulse for 5 to 10 seconds. Combine the oats, shredded coconut and pecans, spread the mixture on a backing sheet and toast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes to ensure the mixture does not burn. Once golden in color, remove from the oven.
Place the dates in a food processor and blend until they form a paste-like consistency. In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the coconut oil, honey and vanilla. As the liquid heats up, begin to stir the date paste in until it becomes well-combined with the mixture. In a bowl, combine the toasted oat mixture, chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and hot liquid from the stove. Stir until completely mixed. Firmly press the mixture into a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or until bars become firm. Remove from the refrigerator and cut into 20 bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for more crumbly bars, or in the refrigerator for firmer bars.
Chewy Healthy Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup crispy rice cereal (brown, white or gluten-free)
¾ cup oat flour (or process oats in a blender to make your own)
¼ cup coconut oil (melted) or vegetable oil or nut butter
½ cup raw agave or honey
¼ cup brown sugar or 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia
1/4 cup applesauce or mashed banana
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (for baked bars). Stir together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk liquid ingredients together in a separate bowl, then stir wet into dry. Transfer to the prepared pan and smooth down firmly, using a second sheet of parchment or wax paper. For no-bake bars, chill until firm (they will be firmer if you use coconut oil). For baked bars, bake on the center rack for 18 minutes, then press down firmly again. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.
Chocolate Chip – Stir in ½ cup mini chocolate chips with dry ingredients
Oatmeal Raisin – Add ½ cup chopped raisins and ½ teaspoon cinnamon to dry ingredients
Peanut Butter – Replace oil with ¼ cup peanut butter or nut butter of your choice.
Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
These granola bars are disguised as cookies and make a great grab-and-go breakfast.
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup honey
1 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup quick cooking oats
2/3 cup unsweetened, dried cranberries
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet. In a small bowl, warm coconut oil and honey in the microwave or preheating oven. In a large bowl, combine both kinds of oats, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add pumpkin puree, eggs and warmed coconut oil and honey. Stir until fully combined. Drop about ¼-cup sized scoops of the mixture onto a cookie sheet and flatten (these cookies won’t spread while baking). Bake for about 15-20 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Let cookies cool on baking sheet before moving to an airtight storage container.
No-Bake Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
2/3 cup light corn syrup (brown rice syrup to keep vegan or honey may be substituted)
Heaping ½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt (optional) or to taste
2 cups quick cook oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup mini semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, divided
Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Spray with cooking spray and set aside. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine corn syrup, peanut butter and brown sugar and heat on high power for one minute. Stir to combine. Add vanilla, cocoa and optional salt and whisk to combine. Add oats and stir to combine. Add one cup rice cereal and gently stir to combine so cereal doesn’t become too crushed. Slowly add the second cup of cereal, stirring while adding. The mixture will be very thick. However, if the mixture seems extremely thick or dry, refrain from adding all of the second cup of cereal. Add ¾ cup chocolate chips and stir to combine. The chips will likely begin to melt, but the less stirring the less melting. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips on the top and very lightly tap them down with a spatula. Cover the pan with a sheet of foil and place pan in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours or in the freezer for at least one hour or until bars have set up. Use the foil overhang to remove the bars from the pan, place on cutting board and slice. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and place in a large zip lock bag. Bars will keep for up to one month at room temperature, in the refrigerator for up to two months, or in the freezer for up to six months.
Of course, granola doesn’t have to be in a bar form to enjoy it, and the great thing is that there’s really no wrong way to make it. You can add any ingredients that suit your taste. The experts at Epicurious.com say that the only thing you need to remember is to use six parts dry ingredients to one part wet. For the dry ingredients, the only “must have” is rolled oats. After that, you can add your favorite nuts, seeds or other ingredients. For the wet portion, you could make a mixture of half oil (warmed coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, canola or sunflower seed) and half sweetener such as honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup. Adding an egg white to the wet mixture will help the granola clump together better and give it extra crunch. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry, add the seasonings of your choice like cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg or salt and bake at 300 degrees on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stir the mixture gently every 15 minutes and bake until the granola is golden brown and dry, about 40-45 minutes. If you want to add fruit like raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, add it after the granola is baked to keep the fruit from drying out.