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Granola Bars

by Deliciously Organic on March 1, 2010

I’ve started at least 5 posts this weekend without completing a single one.  At first, I thought I’d apologize for not having much to say, but I came across this passage while reading My Life in France:

I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make.  When one’s hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as, “Oh, I don’t know how to cook…” or “Poor little me…” or “This may taste awful…” it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not.  Besides such admissions only draw attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, “Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal!”…Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile…then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile – and learn from her mistakes.”

How true is this?  How many times have we made excuses for our cooking or heard others make excuses?  Isn’t it completely awkward for both parties?  I’ve done this so many times – usually I say, “Oh, and the crust is whole wheat, in case you notice it tastes more ‘wheaty’ than you’re accustomed to.”  Why do I do this?  I’m actually a very confident cook, but when I serve my food to people who I know mainly eat processed foods, I feel like I need to give an explanation.  I’ve also been on the receiving end where a friend apologizes for her food (honestly, if someone makes me mac and cheese from a box I’m happy because I didn’t have to make it myself….not that I advocate eating from a box).

I completely agree with Julia Child and think we could all use a little kick in the pants and a reminder that if we’re in the kitchen at all, cooking for just ourselves, a group of friends, or our family, that alone is cause for celebration and something to be proud of!

So in keeping with the spirit of “no excuses,” I’m excited to share a granola bar recipe I whipped up this weekend.  My offering: toasted oats, crisp almonds, sweet shredded coconut, and dried fruit drizzled with whole cane sugar and maple syrup then baked until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  It’s a snack you can take with you just about anywhere.  I know you’ll love it!

Granola Bars

Serving Size: Yields 12-16 bars

Granola Bars

I've included two variations for this recipe. The first is a "regular" method and the second is a soaked method. If you'd like to read more about soaking click here and here.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats (make sure they are gluten free oats)

  • 1 cup chopped almonds

  • 1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2/3 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar or sucanat (to read more click here)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

  • 3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (unsulphured preferred)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter an 11 x 7 baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Put the oatmeal, almonds and coconut on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Pour oatmeal mixture into a large bowl and add the cranberries and apricots. Put the butter, honey, whole cane sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir together until sugar has dissolved and then pour over the oatmeal mixture. Stir until syrup coats mixture. Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture with the back of a spoon evenly in the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 2-3 hours before cutting into squares.

Soaked Method:

The night before pour almonds in a large bowl and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt and stir. Pour oats into another large bowl and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and stir. Leave both bowls at room temperature overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 170 degrees. Strain almonds and oats (oats will be a very wet so press gently in the colander to release as much moisture as possible). Spread almonds on sheet pan and the oats on an separate sheet pan. Bake in oven for 12 hours, or until crispy.

Pour oats into a large mixing bowl and crumble with your hands if they are clumped together. Add almonds, apricots, and cranberries. Pour coconut into a large skillet and toast until golden over low heat. Add to almond mixture.

Place the butter, honey, whole cane sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir together until sugar has dissolved and then pour over the oatmeal mixture. Stir until syrup coats mixture. Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture with the back of a spoon evenly in the pan. Bake in oven for 4-5 hours, until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy March 2, 2010 at 1:23 am

Thanks! I've been daydreaming of homemade granola bars. These look great.

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Cathrine March 2, 2010 at 1:52 am

Thanks for the Granola bars, been looking for a recipe recently, for a healthy snack for the kids. I so agree about the "making excuses" – I'm notorious for it. Don't even know why, as I'm generally a good cook – think it is just habit. From now on I will make no excuses and take the credit where it is due.

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Christina March 2, 2010 at 4:42 am

This is one thing my kids have been missing since I've stopped buying any processed food. They'll be so happy I have a recipe now! Thank you!

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Stacy March 2, 2010 at 4:43 am

I'm terrible about apologizing for food or just over-explaining, and I have been making an effort not to do it. I love granola on yogurt, so I haven't tried making granola bars yet. The base is close to my recipe, so maybe I will give them a shot soon!

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Emily March 2, 2010 at 12:28 am

Looks yummy! I had a question about using agave nectar. How do I use it when substituting for sugar? What is the ratio?

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Katy March 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I've convinced myself that, like you mention, I simply "verbally prepare" my guests for the food. Not apologizing. But of course, it's the same thing, thinly veiled.It sets up a vicious cycle. I don't want others to apologize for the food they serve to me (even boxed mac and cheese) — but when I do the same, what do I expect?I am, however, also infamous for announcing that what I'm serving is utterly incredible (this usually to closer friends) — hmmm… wonder what the etiquette is on that? ; )

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Kate March 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I love that book, and that quote stuck with me when I read it last year. Now it appears everywhere and I'm so glad. I wish people would just serve their food without disclaimers, without stress or worry that it isn't perfect. There is no need for perfection in cooking when there are so many variables involved. The best part is the faces around the table.And that recipe looks wonderful, by the way!

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Shannalee March 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

OK, a: I love granola bars. love them, love them. b: I soooo understand about the apologizing and had someone give me that same Julia Child quote, which I think is excellent. Here's to celebrating time in the kitchen and whole cooking and, well, life!

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Deliciously Organic March 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Emily: I don't use agave nectar much anymore, so I'm not quite sure as to the exact ratios. Here is the article/study that turned me away from agave (in case you're interested): http://www.westonaprice.org/Agave-Nectar-Worse-Than-We-Thought.html I was pretty bummed to read that article b/c I love how neutral agave nectar is! The only time I use it now is when we make margaritas or other mixed drinks. i made simple syrup with sucanat/rapadura and it tasted fine, but who wants to drink a brown margarita? haha…

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Kristen March 3, 2010 at 2:31 am

I think I would like all of these things without any sweetener… do you think it would "hold" together with less of the sweet stuff?

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Deliciously Organic March 3, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Kristen: I actually tried this recipe with less maple syrup and they didn't hold together well. If you'd rather make granola, then you could use 1/4 less maple syrup and just crumble the mixture after it's baked.

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Stacy March 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Great quote thank you! I had not posted in a few weeks and I was going to start my most recent one with an apology and then I thought, What am I apologizing for? I love this recipe and can't wait to try. I have been wanting to make homemade granola bars for a long time and this seems like a perfect recipe.

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Lisa March 11, 2010 at 8:13 am

Hi, I found you thru Real Food Weds & so happy to see a soaked granola bar recipe- my question is: the beautiful pictures you have here is that the soaked version or non? And you use fresh apricots? Thanks & I look forward to more! :) (I deleted my other comment because I said, "I look forward to more nourishing posts" which I realized could sound like I was saying your posts weren't nourishing enough! oops!)

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Deliciously Organic March 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Hi Lisa: The pictures are of the soaked bars, even though I tested both versions before posting. I post 2 versions b/c I realize that not everyone is ready for soaking yet, so I like to have the option. I used dried apricots…purely for the pictures I used regular org. apricots b/c the ones without sulpher wouldn't have been very pretty! I'm glad you found the blog. I hope it's helpful!

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Christina March 27, 2010 at 12:28 am

Hi! I am friends with your cousin Allison in VA and she recommended me your food blog. My 16 month old LOVES cereal/granola bars and she's eating me out of food budget and I am trying to get more and more away from processed food. Since she shouldn't have nuts till 2-3ish, what could I substitute for the almonds (I think) that are in the recipe? Thanks!-Christina

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Deliciously Organic March 30, 2010 at 2:12 am

Christina: Since your daughter can't have nuts I would replace them with 1/2 cup additional coconut and 1/2 cup additional oats. Hope that helps!

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Gillian September 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi Carrie: the granola bars are delicious but mine didn't hold together. Is it because I omitted the sugar? Or are there different types of rolled oats (I used old-fashioned)?Thanks :)

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Deliciously Organic September 6, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Gillian: If you omitted the whole cane sugar than that's probably why they didn't hold. If you don't want to use the sugar than next time I would increase the maple syrup to 1 cup. That should give it the sticky-factor. :)

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Stephanie April 21, 2011 at 6:27 am

I’m wondering if you could use a dehydrator for the almonds and oats? We live in a country where electricity and gas is very, very expensive and there’s no way I could run my oven for 12 hours x 2. Thanks.

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Deliciously Organic April 21, 2011 at 6:31 am

Yes, a dehydrator will work just as well.

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Stephanie June 24, 2011 at 5:27 pm

This recipe sounds absolutely delightful. I was wondering if there is any way to cut the 12 hour baking time down and still get the same results? We live in Korea and with the price of gas and electric, there is no way I can run my stove for 12 hours. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

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Deliciously Organic June 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm

If you want to follow the soaked method then you need to bake them overnight, or in a dehydrator. Or you can do the “regular” method at 300ºF for much less time. Hope that helps!

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julie August 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm

If I really didn’t want to add the coconut would I need to sub anything for it or just leave it out? Just not a huge coconut fan. I guess if you couldn’t really taste it then it wouldn’t be so bad :).

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Deliciously Organic August 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm

You can substitute the coconut with another nut or fruit. Just make sure you use 1 cup of your ingredient and they should turn out great!

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April September 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm

These sound delicious. I usually soak our grains so I am going to try the soaked method. Just to clarify, did you use maple sugar or maple syrup? The ingredient list has maple syrup, but the directions have the maple sugar. Thanks!

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Christina February 10, 2013 at 7:15 am

This is the best “base recipe” I have found for a granola bar recipe. The amounts of oats, sugar, honey, almonds/nuts, and butter are key, and I have been successful using this base and trying different versions (like adding in peanut butter and applesauce, to make Apple Spice granola bars ;)
The only thing I am wondering, what do you think the sugar content is in a serving size of these bars? I know this amount of sugar is needed to hold it together (I tried with less and the bars came out crumbly) but I’m still a little concerned. I’ve tried using a couple of Recipe analyzers, but the ones I have come across are so inaccurate since they only provide nutrition info on certain brands (brands that are not organic or in any way natural, usually!) Just wondering if you could provide some insight. Thank you!

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Deliciously Organic February 11, 2013 at 8:59 am

Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the granola bars. The sweetener totals to less than 3/4 a cup total for 16 bars. So that’s about .75 tablespoons sweetener for each bar. You might want to try my grain free granola recipe – it uses just 2/3 cup honey. You could substitute some grains for the nuts, but if you use oats, it might soak up too much of the liquid and cause the bars to fall apart. The grain free recipe brings the sweetener down to .625 tablespoons per bar and you also don’t have the sugars from the grains, so actually the sugar content would be much less. I hope I’m not getting too technical! :)

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Elise April 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Looks yummy! Should the almonds be chopped before they are soaked, or after they are dried and crispy? If I am using blanched almonds is soaking necessary? Thanks!

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Deliciously Organic April 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Most of the phytic acid is in the skins, so if you want to bypass the soaking step, that’s fine. I chop the nuts after they have been dried.

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Amelia September 30, 2013 at 7:39 am

This recipe is super tasty however I’m wondering how many calories are a serving? I don’t make them into bars so what constitutes a serving?

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Deliciously Organic September 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

I’m not sure how many calories are in this dish. There are multiple cooking softwares that you could enter the recipe into and get the nutritional counts.

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Billie December 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm

This may sound silly, but how long can I store these for after making them? (presuming I keep them in an air tight container? They look great, but I only really have time to make them once a week?

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Deliciously Organic January 1, 2014 at 8:58 am

They will keep for about 2 weeks. I store them in an airtight container with a piece of parchment on top just to help absorb any moisture.

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Casey October 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm

These are awesome! I tasted them not long after they were out of the oven and the flavor is great. The only problem is they are very crumbly – is that why it says to wait 2-3 hours to cut them? Or did I mess them up?

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Deliciously Organic October 27, 2014 at 6:19 am

They need to cool for 2-3 hours to completely set. That’s probably why they were crumbly.

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