I’m planning on driving down to Virginia at the end of the week during my “Spring break.” I’ll still be working, but at least it is a break from classes. With the opportunity to see my partner and to spend some time in 70 degree weather instead of 30, I figured I’d go for it!
Hence the creation of one of the perfect driving snacks– granola bars! I usually stock up on granola bars, seltzer, carrots and hummus, cheese and crackers, apples, and peanut butter (in sandwich and/or cookie form) for long drives. I thought this time I’d make my own granola bars.
The original recipe, found here, is one that I had made about a year ago and really enjoyed (although I found it to be a little crumbly). Almonds, coconut, almond butter (in my case Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter– yum!), chia seeds, oats, honey, and the secret ingredient… lemon zest! The lemon adds such a nice pop of brightness and freshness, and it plays perfectly with the honey and the vanilla notes in these bars. I still found them to be a bit crumbly, so I added a little milk to the mix and that did seem to help. I’d still add maybe a little extra almond butter next time, and perhaps decrease the honey– they are quite sweet. I’d say maybe cut the honey in half and up the almond butter.
I kept the coconut, oats, chia, almonds, and honey for the second batch. I left out the lemon zest and added half coconut chocolate almond butter and half peanut butter, and also added some peanut butter chips I had in the cabinet. These stuck together much better. I’m not sure if that’s the peanut butter or that I maybe divided my dry ingredients unevenly between the two batches… I’d still cut the honey in these next time for a snack, but for a dessert they are great. (They also kind of remind me of one of my favorite “homemade” granola bars– those in the bakery at Whole Foods.)
You could easily swap out the honey to make these vegan, use any kind of flavored or unflavored nut butter, different flavors of almonds, add other spices or other mix-ins to customize these bars.
Mix and Match Granola Bars
Makes about twelve small bars. (Think a little smaller than KIND bars.)
- 1.5 cups oats
- 1 cup coconut, unsweetened (if sweetened, cut back on honey)
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 lemon– zest of
- Line an 8in square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. *
- Combine 1.5 cups oats, 1 cup coconut, 3/4 cup chopped almonds, and 1/2 cup chia seeds in a large bowl.
- Divide the dry mixture in half, pouring half into another medium or large bowl. Add the zest of one lemon to one half, and 1/4 cup peanut butter chips to the other half.
- In one small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup (or less) honey over medium low heat and stir in 1/4 cup vanilla almond butter until smooth.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Pour into the dry ingredients that have the lemon zest and stir until combined and sticky. Press into half of the prepared pan.
- In another small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup (or less) honey over medium low heat, and then stir in 2T chocolate coconut almond butter and 2T peanut butter. Stir until smooth.
- Add to the other bowl of dry ingredients (the one with the peanut butter chips) and stir to combine. Press into the second half of the prepared pan.
- Use a rubber spatula or another sheet of parchment to press down firmly on all of the bars. Chill for at least four hours or overnight before cutting.
- These bars can be stored for at least a week, wrapped individually in plastic wrap in the fridge.
*I created an aluminum foil barrier to divide my bars in half, but you could easily just let them touch, or use two smaller pans, or anything.
These are great for snack time, or for a relatively healthy dessert. The flavor possibilities are nearly endless. I also thought about adding some protein powder to the peanut butter/honey mixture to really amp up the long-lasting snack potential of these. I’m thinking a maple syrup, smoky or chipotle almonds, maple walnut peanut butter version would be really good!