Friends, we’ve officially reached the time of year when having on-the-go snacks at the ready becomes essential. Anyone else feeling it? At our house, from mid-April till school’s out, it feels like everything is building up to an end-of-the-year finale. I’m talking fieldtrips, nature camp, science fair, track meets, and recitals. And of course, the gorgeous weather is also tempting us out of the house as often as possible. It’s all good things! No complaints, I’ve been a parent long enough to know it’s just the nature of the school year.
To help keep the kids satiated (fed kids are happy kids!) over these next few weeks, I was thinking I would whip up a batch of homemade granola bars — made with ingredients I know my kids love — to have on hand. Something that’s specifically made to be easy to grab and go.
Homemade Almond Berry Granola Bars anyone? They’re sweet and a little salty, crunchy, and chewy. And they’ll hit the spot when you’re looking for something to nosh on. This one is good for anyone with a sweet tooth, especially if you’re a fan of dried fruit. The best part is that these come together quickly and the hardest part is waiting for them to be ready to cut into bars.
Ready to make something yummy?
Here’s what I’ve used: pure maple syrup, a little honey, and brown sugar along with some butter to create a syrup that will help keep all these yummy ingredients together. You do need to either microwave or heat the syrup ingredients up on the stove just long enough for the sugar to melt. A good minute or two does the trick. And then you just pour it over the oats, almonds, chia, flaxseed meal, and dried fruit. Then these go into the oven for about 25 minutes. This helps the bars hold together, though I’ve seen other recipes that don’t require a separate baking step.
Also, this recipe uses a combination of three different kinds of dried berries — strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries. Any combination of dried fruit, or just one kind can be used instead. Use your favorite! I’m thinking of a dozen other varieties that would be equally delicious. And if you’re a chocolate fan, you can also give these a little dunk or a pretty drizzle of melted chocolate.
As I said, the hardest part is waiting for the bars to finish cooling. You’ll want to let the bars cool for several hours, even overnight, or pop the pan into the fridge for an hour or so to help them set up. After that, it’s finally time to sample one — unless you dug into the bowl before pressing the mixture into the pan. : )
You can cut these into different sized bars depending on your preference, but the recipe yields between 8-12 bars. Super easy to make a batch and keep them around during the week to drop into your purse or gym bag, or as an after dinner treat.
Homemade Almond Berry Granola Bars
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup roasted sea salt almonds
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed)
3/4 cup mixed dried berries, roughly chopped (cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, allowing enough to hang off the edges to work as handles. (Cutting two 8-inch wide, long rectangles out of the parchment works really well.)
2. Chop the almonds and dried fruit. Place the almonds, dried fruit, rice cereal, chia seeds, and flaxseed meal in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. Place maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, honey, vanilla, and sea salt in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat, watching carefully and gently stirring, just until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour over the almond and cereal mixture. Stir well to coat.
4. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges and top are golden brown. Place pan on cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. The bars should be a little warm, but hold together in a block. Use the parchment handles to lift the block out of the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8-12 bars. (A serrated knife works well too.) Leave the bars on the cutting board and don’t disturb them for 1-2 hours while they cool completely and set up. Wrap individually in parchment paper and store in an airtight container for a few days, or refrigerate for 2 weeks.
These are so dang yummy! Really, I need to like quadruple the batch because we love them so much.
Tell me, Friends, have you ever made granola bars from scratch? Any tips that you would add? And what do you like for add-ins? Any fruity combos that you especially love? I want to hear your ideas!
Credits: Images, styling & recipe by Lindsey Johnson.