No time for breakfast? Granola bars to the rescue. Hungry on the plane? Granola bars sure beat pretzels. Long stretch between lunch and dinner? Again, granola bars. They keep our blood sugar levels stable, and keep us from turning into a cranky, hypoglycemic mess.
for 8 servings
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1 ¾ cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a food processor or blender to break them up)
- 1 cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes (shredded coconut should work, too)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Line a 9-inch square baker with two strips of criss-crossed parchment paper, cut to fit neatly against the base and up the sides. The parchment paper will make it easy for you to slice the bars later.
- Toast the almonds for maximum flavor (you can skip this step, but your bars won’t be quite as awesome): In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and starting to turn lightly golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a medium mixing bowl.
- To the mixing bowl, add the oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt. Stir until blended.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, measure out 1 cup almond butter. Top with ½ cup honey, followed by the vanilla extract. Whisk until well blended. (If you must, you can gently warm the liquid mixture in the microwave or on the stovetop.)
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a big spoon to mix them together until the two are evenly combined and no dry oats remain. The drier the mixture, the more firm the bars will be, so stir in extra oats if the mixture seems wet. Conversely, if you used a super thick almond butter (cough, Justin’s), you might need to drizzle in another tablespoon of honey to help it all stick together.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared square baker. Use your spoon to arrange the mixture fairly evenly in the baker, then use the bottom of a flat, round surface (like a short, sturdy drinking glass) to pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible. (If the mixture keeps sticking to the glass, cover the base of the glass with a small square of parchment paper.)
- Cover the baker and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. This gives the oats time to absorb moisture so the granola bars can set.
- When you’re ready to slice, lift the bars out of the baker by grabbing both pieces of parchment paper on opposite corners. Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the mixture into 4 even rows and 4 even columns (these “bars” stick together better in a square shape).
- For portability, you can wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Bars keep well for a couple of days at room temperature, but I recommend storing individually wrapped bars in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer for best flavor. They’ll keep for several months in the freezer.