Delicious Granola Bars

I think were probably all past Quaker Chewy granola bars by now, right? But I used to LOVE those things as a kid. My mom would pack me one or two in my lunch bag as a snack or alongside my bologna and cheese sandwich (not a vegetable in sight, I kid you not). My favorites were the smores and chocolate chip. None of that oatmeal raisin stuff 😉

It didnt take long into developing healthier eating habits for me to give up the sugar laden candy bars-in disguise, but I still like to have granola bars on hand for a quick on-the-go snack. I make these amazing oat bars that are great for snacking or topping with almond butter, but theyre not quite as portable as say, a Larabar- or a Chewy granola bar. And though I love my Larabars, I do- theyre not homemade.

So I decided to make a bar for my road trip this weekend that ate easily with one hand (while Im working on my laptop, or he is driving- not that he would ever drive with one hand, that is), was satisfying and packed with nutrients. And doesnt contain any of this kind of mumbo jumbo:

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars

Granola (whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, crisp rice [rice flour, sugar, salt, malted barley extract], whole grain rolled wheat, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils* with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and/or sunflower oil with natural tocopherol added to preserve freshness, dried coconut, whole wheat flour, sodium bicarbonate, soy lecithin, caramel color, nonfat dry milk), semisweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), crisp rice (rice, sugar, salt, barley malt), high fructose corn syrup, sugar, corn syrup solids, glycerin, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil*, sorbitol, calcium carbonate, salt, water, soy lecithin, molasses, natural and artificial flavors, BHT (a preservative), citric acid.

*Adds a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat

As far as Im concerned, any trans fat is dietarily significant. And I would not like my granola bar with a side of BHT or high fructose corn syrup, thanks.

Grown-up Chewy Granola Bars {Vegan, gluten-free}
Loosely based on Heidi Swansons Big Sur Power Bars

1/2 cup raw honey (for vegan use brown rice syrup or agave)
1/3 cup almond butter (cashew or peanut would work, too)
1/4 cup sucanat
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I use gluten-free)
1 1/2 cup brown rice crisps
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup carob chips or vegan chocolate chips*
1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/3 cup almonds, chopped

1. Oil an 88 pan lightly and set aside. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt honey, nut butter and sucanat. Stir in cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, rice crisps, coconut, nuts and chocolate chips, if desired*. Add honey mix to oat mixture and stir to combine.

3. Using a spatula that is slightly wet, press bar mixture into pan. Let firm in refrigerator for 1-2 hours before slicing and serving.

*You have two choices with the chocolate chips: you can either add them in with oats mixture before you stir in honey mix, this will cause most of the chips to melt and the bar to be more chocolatey overall (this is my preference!) or, you can let the stirred mixture cool in the fridge for 10-20 minutes before stirring in the chips to ensure they dont melt much and are more chip-y in the bars. Yes, chip-y is the technical term 😉

Makes 10-12 bars, depending on the size you prefer.

These are great because you can mix-and-match them so many ways. Switch in different types of nuts or maybe a seed, fruit for the chocolate chips, the skys the limit! If you want a more neutral, less honey taste (or youre vegan) use brown rice syrup or agave nectar.