It’s that time of year again… back to school!
The time of year when parents breathe a little sigh of relief to have actual trained professionals watch over their kids for 7+ hours of the day! Teachers, I ♥ you. The time of year when we get back to a routine around the house. The time of year when we get a little nostalgic watching the little ones grow up, sending them off to the next grade.
The time of year when the packing of the lunches begins again. Every. single. day. Fellow parents, I feel your pain.
And at our school, we also pack a snack for the morning, plus another if they stay for the after school program. So in an effort to change up the snack routine and try to keep it on the healthy side, I went on the quest for a homemade granola bar recipe.
Back when Kid #1 was in Kindergarten, I *thought* I had pretty much perfected my delicious chewy granola bar recipe. It was packed full of oats, cranberries and even a few mini chocolate chips. But as the school year went on, the granola bars started coming back home in the lunch box, untouched.
Which led to a conversation kinda like this:
Me: Why aren’t you eating your granola bars anymore?
Kid #1: I don’t like them.
Me: What don’t you like about them? (Actual thought —> child, what do you want from me, I am giving you CHOCOLATE CHIPS!)
Kid #1: I want crunchy granola bars. Peanut butter ones.
So the challenge was accepted. And the challenged failed. A LOT of times. And I gave up.
Because I finally realized my fatal error – natural peanut butter.
Natural peanut butter + heat = disaster. It is very temperamental, but I think I’ve finally figured it out. The key is to not heat the peanut butter directly, but instead slightly heat the other liquids you are mixing it with, then add the peanut butter to just barely liquify it.
But the challenge with these bars doesn’t quite end there. In order to get these to be crunchy you have to spread it in a pretty thin layer. So when you put it in the pan, you gotta really smash it down in there good. I spray a little olive oil on my fingers or the back of a measuring cup and press down super hard to get it to stay together nicely.
After you take the pan out of the oven, don’t let it cool too long before cutting – just until you can safely handle them.
In the food blogger world, that means take that picture fast and hope you end up with something usable otherwise you’re gonna be making these again.
The next tricky task is the cutting.
Grab your granola-bar-cutter/meat cleaver. Hope that no actual chefs read your blog, disgraced at your inappropriate use of kitchen knives.
Cut quickly but carefully. Please spare all fingers.
You may lose a few crumbles. Shed no tears. Throw it on some yogurt and make a snack out of it.
Then, working with that finicky natural PB again, make a batch of magic shell and drizzle it on.
The result is a crunchy, peanut-buttery, subtly sweet granola bar.
We’re four days into the school year and none have returned in the lunchbox. Fingers crossed!
- 3 tablespoons oat flour (store bought or made by grinding 3-4 tablespoons oats in the food processor)
- 1¼ cups old fashioned oats
- ½ cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup puffed rice cereal
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup + ½ tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter - divided
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a 9x9 square pan with parchment paper in both directions.
- Using a food processor, grind 3-4 tablespoons of old fashioned oats to make oat flour. Alternatively, use store bought oat flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of oat flour with 1¼ cups old fashioned oats, the peanuts, puffed rice cereal, baking soda and salt.
- Using a microwave safe measuring cup, measure ¼ cup of honey and heat in the microwave until just warm, about 15 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to the honey and stir until smooth, then add the vanilla.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients and transfer to the pan. Spread into a thin layer and press down firmly. A little olive oil sprayed on your fingers is helpful.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.
- Cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper. If the bars are cool enough to handle, use a very sharp knife and cut straight down (do not use a sawing motion) into individual servings and let cool completely.
- In a microwave safe measuring cup, add ½ tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Heat in the microwave until just warmed and the coconut oil is liquid, 15-20 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon peanut butter and stir until smooth. Immediately drizzle onto the granola bars.
- Place in the refrigerator until the drizzle hardens.
- Store refrigerated in an air-tight container.
If you find you would prefer some extra sweetness, add a ½ tablespoon of brown sugar to the bar mixture.
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest