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HELP! In search of the perfect granola bar

If you saw my new years resolutions you already know of my quest for the perfect granola bar. What makes the perfect granola bar you ask?

  • Easy to make: Yes, I want to make them, so I’m in search of a recipe. Preferably one that’s quick and easy.
  • Healthy: A lot of whole grains, not a lot of sugar.
  • Packability: I need to be able to individually wrap and store them (in the freezer). Also need them to hold up relatively well even if shoved at the bottom of a backpack.
  • Chewiness: I don’t want them to fall apart when you pick them up (so they can be eaten in the van or a while walking on the trail), nor do I want something that turns into a jaw breaker after 4 days.
  • Kid approved: My kids need to love them as much as they love Honey Graham Z-Bars and Quakers.

Over the weekend I tried this recipe for Kati’s Granola Bars (as suggested by Amelia from Tales of a Mt. Mama). The recipe involved: rolled oats, whole wheat flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, honey and whatever else you want to mix in (I added craisins, sunflower seeds, almonds and coconut).

Overall I’d say these were great tasting chewy granola bars, but had a few kinks I’d need to work out:

1. They fell apart pretty easily when eaten by a small moving child.

2. My oldest thought were “too sweet”! But I have to admit, they were a bit sweet for me too.

3. I need to make them a little less dense. But how…?

HELP! As I try to create my own perfect adventure worthy granola bar, I want more suggestions. Do you have a favorite recipe I can try? Favorite ingredients? Tips? Thoughts? Ever added something like rice krispies?

In return I promise to share my recipe once I’ve created the perfect granola bar!

15 Comments so far

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  1. Will you please share the perfect one when you find it? I need one desperately!

  2. Lindsey, a couple of tips on those granola bars:
    - The last time I made them I replaced more than half of the honey with applesauce. It totally worked and made them less sweet.
    - When you put them in the pan, you REALLY have to press down hard (like your body weight on your palm pressing in) and they will stay together.
    - I honestly improvise every time I do these depending on my add-ins.

    Like the idea of using rice crispies to cut down on the density – I will try next time and let you know!!

    • Amelia – Good suggestions! I like the apple sauce idea, I was thinking maybe Agave Nectar, but that’s pretty sweet too… As for pressing them down, perhaps I do need to press harder. I also thought maybe I should have also pressed them down after the had cooled but before I cut them. Rice krispies would be great, or maybe something like millet? Something puffy that cooks well… There has to be something… This will be fun.

  3. I don’t want to just link to my blog…but I had a friend guest posted her homemade recipe: http://kidproject.org/2011/11/22/grab-n-go-granola-bars/. You could also ask her her thoughts, she is much more talented than I am in the kitchen. Her blog is: http://dal-babyboy.blogspot.com/. Post what you figure out for the rest of us!

    • Alyssa – Link to your blog all you want, I don’t mind a bit! I like that the recipe you posted uses coconut oil in place of butter… hummm. I’ll have to try them Thanks for the link! And I will post my final product, but I have until the end of the year. Right ;)

  4. We’ve never made granola bars, per say, but our daughter loves these snack bars… http://www.familywilds.com/blog/2011/05/wow-big-kids-bars.html Let us all know when you come up with a great recipe. We’ll try it :-)

    • Pablo – Hummmm a ‘snack bar’, maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Maybe it really is a snack bar I want… Oh boy, the possibilities just got even more endless. Thanks for the link!

  5. Here’s the recipe I use: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jo-anns-power-bars/detail.aspx I make mine gluten free, using GF oat flour and Perky’s Crunchy Flax cereal. Sometimes they seem a bit sweet, so you might need to cut back on the sugar. You can totally adapt the dried fruit ingredients. I always put in chocolate chips. THey can be crumbly at times, but I don’t find them any more messy than crackers or Os all over the place. These take about 20 minutes to mix up, and 30 to bake. I usually make them the morning of a big adventure, if I don’t get to it the night before. I just bring them in the car in the pan. They hold up fairly well in the pack, though I do try to put them at the top, and crumbles do occur.

    You might also look into raw or vegan bars. THese are made with a food processor and involve grinding nuts and dates or raisins and a few other ingredients, then baking or not. These are more dense. I don’t have a food processor, so have never made any, but keep bookmarking recipes I find.

    Good luck! It’s a worthy search!

    • Hiker Mama – Great suggestions, I’m intrigued by the grape nut like cereal addition… Humm. And I’ve never thought about vegan type bars, I don’t have a food processor either! But my kids use to like Laurabars so maybe…

  6. Sarah

    I tried making the same ones and had a few of the same issues. Overall I loved them, but I think replacing half honey with applesause as Amelia recommends will be a great change. I pressed mine down really hard and had no problems with them crumbling. I think I would bake them just a little longer to brown them and may even divide the batch into two pans to make them thinner and, as you say, less dense.

    Happy granola/snack bar making and really looking forwards to seeing the results!!!

    • Sarah – Good to know, next time I will definitely pack them down more and I love the suggestion of making them thinner. That right there would cut down on a lot of density! Thanks!

  7. Here is a link to my friend’s granola bar recipe:
    http://www.anoregoncottage.com/2011/02/pantry-basic-baked-chewy-granola-bars.html
    I don’t use butter but substitute all SunButter (sunflower seed butter). I love using pecans and almonds as the mix-ins. I like this recipe because you can change it up. My teens like PB and maple syrup instead of honey. I cut, wrap, freeze, and then grab for backpacks as needed. Everyone loves my bars and I end up making double batches.

    • Barb-Harmony – These look delicious. I’ll definitely be experimenting with the sunflower seed butter. I’ve never tried it. Thank you so much!

  8. [...] talked on this site before about making the perfect granola bar.  (We are still looking for good recipes, by the way!)  While these aren’t technically [...]

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