Alright, so Cole and I just got back from a week long vacation up in Kelowna, and although it was a much needed little getaway, ever since we got back I have been so busy between running around at work like a crazy woman, (trying to catch up on the hundreds of emails in my inbox… seriously???) and just plain trying to get back into the swing of things at home that I have been completely neglecting my posts – Ahh!
It has been driving me crazy because I haven’t had nearly enough time as I would like to be baking up delicious treats for us to feast on. Baking is seriously my stress reliever, and when I can’t even make the time to do that for myself… Let’s just say I go a little batty and perhaps get a little cranky due to the extreme symptoms of what I have not-so-cleverly named “baking withdrawal.” Now before you get too worried about my (completely made up) condition, I think I have finally gotten myself settled back into the rhythm of regular life (vs vacation life) again. So, the bright side to this story is that in the coming weeks I should be able to start pumping out recipe posts again like nobodies business! Yipee!!
Now because I have been running around like a mad woman for the past two weeks and dramatically claiming that my schedule is just “too busy,” I thought for my first post in a while it would be a good idea to share a super simple recipe that not only tastes amazing, but can also be easily thrown together, even when you are on a tight schedule – which let’s be real – who isn’t these days?
So, what are these simple and delicious homemade treats ? you ask – Well, they are none other than these gorgeous no-bake, Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars. That’s right, there is no need for you to even break out the mixer for this one, and come on… peanut butter mixed together with a mass of oats, honey and chocolate chips… need I say more?
Honestly, who in their right mind can possibly resist a good peanut butter granola bar??? – Besides those of you who are allergic to peanuts… you are excused. I personally don’t know what I would do with myself if I was allergic to peanut butter because I am a self proclaimed peanut butter addict and therefore, am not a girl to resist a peanut butter granola bar ever- Yum, yum, yum!
Seriously these little guys are SO delicious and also SO simple to make – I promise you anybody can whip up a batch! All you really need is a nice big mixing bowl, a wooden spoon or spatula, the simple ingredients listed below, fifteen minutes and your fridge to get these done.
Alright so clearly we have established that I absolutely LOVE a good granola bar and I have to admit that I am pretty much smitten with Nature Valleys selection of Sweet & Salty Nut Bars. I just love the nut butter glazes they put on the bottom, and the chunky nuts spread throughout the oaty bars of deliciousness… they are a drool worthy snack for sure! However, what I am not such a big fan of, is reading the ingredient list on those bars, and subsequently feeling not so great about what I just put in my body. Sadly the Nature Valley bars that I love so dearly are full of not so healthy ingredients like corn syrup and palm oil (BAD) – Not not to mention they can be quite expensive to keep in the house when you have a boyfriend who eats granola bars like there is no tomorrow, and you are unable to catch them on sale at the grocery store.
So what is my solution to this not so healthy granola bar and budget problem? Quite simply – homemade granola bars of course! A few months back I set off on a search for a really good granola bar recipe so that I could put a stop to spending unnecessary cash on this store-bought “healthy” snack that was really not so healthy. So basically I wanted to find a recipe that was still as delicious as my store-bought favorite Nature Valley brand and healthy at the same time… yeah – good luck lady! After scanning through numerous recipes, much to my disappointment, I was having a really hard time finding what I was looking for.
So what was a girl to do except build her own recipe from scratch? Now, although this recipe building process indeed took some trials and tribulations, they proved to be well worth the effort because the result is a cost effective granola bar that is made from all-natural ingredients, is healthy, while still tasting absolutely delicious! What more could you ask for?
So when I set out on this recipe building journey, there were a few things that I had at the top of my list for the perfect homemade granola bar. The first and perhaps most important thing to me was that I try to replicate that oh so tasty glaze that Nature Valley slathers on the bottom of their Sweet & Salty Nut Bars mhmmm – because that is without a doubt my favourite part! So upon investigating the glaze further I came to the realization that this could be easily replicated by simply mixing a peanut or almond butter with a little icing sugar, a touch of vanilla, some milk and voila – I had my homemade version of the Nature Valley glaze. Boo ya!
Now this is an extra little addition that I put on my granola bars, but if you are craving a simpler granola bar, feel free to omit the glaze (but it is a delicious addition – so make your decision wisely!).
Next, I wanted a granola bar that would be at least somewhat healthy but without compromising on taste. A lot of the baked granola bar recipes I searched through were chock full of butter and a lot of added sugar, and while this is in fact a great way to make tasty granola bars… I found that they end up being almost more like a cookie when you consider the ingredients. So I have opted for a no-bake recipe for my granola bars, where the only sweetener in the actual bar itself is a little bit of all-natural honey goodness. I then decided to add in a couple of little power foods like chia, flax seeds, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds, which you hardly even notice in the bars, but they contribute to a healthier granola bar and trust me – they are just as good as your less healthy store bought varieties.
I also wanted my granola bars to have a nice, chewy consistency! So while oats alone provide their own chewyness to the bar, I liked the idea of adding some rice krispies because when blended with peanut butter and honey, they turn into a delectable mass of crispy chewyness (kind of like a rice krispy treat minus the marshmallow.) The combination of the oats with the rice krispies makes for a perfectly chewy granola bar.
Finally, I wanted my granola bars to have an extra little pop of flavour, so I decided to add in just a touch of vanilla and cinnamon to the mix. I know this seems like a simple addition, but most of the granola bar recipes I have come across have left out these flavourful little ingredients and they really do make all the difference in adding that extra bit of deliciousness to your granola bars!
At the end of it all, I have come up with this recipe for Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars… and did I mention they taste sooo much better than store bought??? Well they do – so no more stalling! Here is the recipe that I have concocted with lots of love after many homemade granola bar trials and this is the one that I get the most requests for.
Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Things you need…
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 3/4 cups rice krispy cereal (I used the brown rice variety)
3 1/4 cups rolled oats, toasted
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
2 tbsp flax seeds (optional)
2 tbsp hemp hearts (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Peanut Butter Glaze
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
How to make…
To toast your oats & pumpkin seeds:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread your oats and pumpkin seeds out over the parchment and toast in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
NOTE: You don’t have to toast your oats or your pumpkin seeds, I just like the flavour it adds to the granola bars.
Peanut Butter Glaze
Line a 9” by 11” rectangle pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the peanut butter until fluid. Stir in vanilla and remove from heat. Using a whisk, mix in icing sugar until well combined; about 2 minutes.
NOTE: Alternatively, you can heat your peanut butter in the microwave on low until it becomes fluid.
Pour the peanut butter glaze into your pan that has been lined with parchment and using a spatula spread the glaze evenly on the bottom of the pan.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and cinnamon until fluid and well mixed; remove from heat and set aside to cool.
NOTE: Alternatively, you can heat your peanut butter and honey in the microwave on low until it becomes fluid and then add in your vanilla and cinnamon.
In a large mixing bowl, combine toasted oats, rice crispies cereal, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, chia seed and flax seeds until well combined. Pour fluid peanut butter and honey mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine. Once the mixture comes together, fold in the chocolate chips carefully.
Press the granola bar mixture into the rectangle pan on top of the peanut butter glaze; Use your hands to pack the granola into the pan well and push into all four corners. If you don’t pack them enough, the bars will be crumbly and more difficult to eat (but they will still be delicious so don’t fret if you find you didn’t pack them well enough your first time around)
Refrigerate for one hour; remove from fridge, lift the parchment out of the pan, peel off the parchment, and cut into equal sized bars using a good knife- I cut mine into 24 long skinny granola bars, but you can cut them however your little heart desires!
Store in an airtight container and they will keep for up to two weeks.
This is such a great little granola bar recipe that always turns out chewy and delicious just the way it is, but it can be easily modified by just swapping out certain ingredients to match you and your families taste preferences! For example, try swapping out the peanut butter in the recipe for the almond butter (or whatever your favourite butter is), or trade the pumpkin seeds for some dried cranberries, or instead of using chocolate chips, toss in some yogurt chips… Alright – I could go on and on like this for days because the possibilities are truly endless!!! My point is this recipe is super versatile and will never steer you wrong even as you change out certain ingredients.
I honestly think that this is a recipe that every body should keep in their back pocket, because not only do homemade granola bars give you the option to create super healthy variations, but they are also such a cost effective way to provide a great snack for your family. This is a slightly larger recipe and makes 24 standard sized granola bars so it is such an easy snack to make that is sure to keep your families tummies full and happy throughout the week.
I made a batch of these for Cole and I to use as an easy on the go snack while we were exploring the town and beaches of Kelowna, and just one pan was more than enough for both of us to snack on for over 10 days!
So the next time you are at the grocery store and you find yourself wandering to the snack aisle to pick up some granola bars… STOP! Turn your little bum around and head to the bulk aisle instead to pick up some simple ingredients like oats, dried fruit, and mini chocolate chips so that you can throw together a batch of your own homemade granola bars – I swear you will never go back to store bought and your family will be begging for more! Cole loves my homemade version so much more than the store bought varieties. Similarly, when I brought half of a batch over to my brothers recently, the verdict was definitely in, and the homemade Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola bars were the clear champion over store bought.
I would love to see your families granola bar creations, because as far as I’m concerned, you can never have enough ideas when it comes to granola bars – so please feel free to share them with me below!