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The next best thing to granola bars: home-made snack bars!

We’ve 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 granola bars, they are pretty darned good!  My mom has been making these ‘bread sticks’ for years.  They’re wonderfully filling and so easy to make, but (even better), they’re also incredibly versatile.

What you’ll need:

1)  5 cups of various flours:  white flour, whole-wheat flour, oats, flax seed, millet, whatever suits your fancy.  The whole wheat makes them denser, the flax seed gave it a slightly nutty taste (which I liked).  Try your own combination and see what you like best!  This weekend we made them with 2 cups each of white and whole-wheat flour, 1 cup of oats, and a few tablespoons of flax seed.

2)  1 cup of sweetener:  maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, apricot syrup, honey, or whatever else strikes your fancy!  We used maple syrup, cane sugar, and honey.

3)  1/3 cup of fat:  Butter and vegetable oil are obvious choices (olive oil tastes a little funny in these…), but try what you’d like!  Peanut butter is a good option too.  Whatever you do, don’t leave it out or the taste is gone.

4)  A pinch of salt:  1 to 2 teaspoons should do the trick.

5)  Milk:  Just enough to bind everything together… it will be about 2/3 of a cup, but if you used peanut butter as your fat you probably won’t need as much milk.  You could use soy, water, almond milk, or something else if you’d like.  I haven’t experimented with these.

6)  Toppers:  Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, etc.), dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, coconut flakes, blueberries, apricots, apples, etc.), sweet treats (peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, m & m’s, etc.)

Heat the oven to 300°.

Mix your dry ingredients and the salt together in a large bowl.  Add in the sweeteners and mix.  We found that mixing by hand was the most effective way to thoroughly combine the sweetener and the dry ingredients.  Add in the fat, mix again.  Then add enough milk to bind everything together–you’re looking for the consistency of pie dough.

You have two options with the ‘toppers’:  you can mix them in with the dough, or you can press them into the dough once it is rolled out.  It depends on your choice of toppers–nuts are harder to cut through and best sprinkled on the dough after it is rolled out.  Fruits and chocolate goodies are easier to cut through and can be incorporated into the dough.

Anyhoo…  pour the dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Press it flat with your fingers, and then use a rolling pin to roll it to the edges of the cookie sheet.

At this point, press your nuts into the top.  We added the sour cherries at this point too because we wanted to do two flavors on one sheet, but we could have mixed them in earlier.  Use the rolling pin to get the nuts deeply seated.

Use a knife to cut the bread-sticks into ‘bars’ (and if you’re putting whole almonds in, press them on after the sticks are scored.  They’re too hard to cut through!).

Bake for 30 minutes–until the edges are slightly brown.  If you like crispier bites, bake them for 15 minutes longer.

Let them cool slightly.  Store in a ziploc so they don’t dry out.

10 Comments so far

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  1. JanS

    Have you tried freezing these? Or should I halve the recipe if I don’t want so many bars all at once?

    • Jan: I haven’t tried freezing these, but I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t freeze well. And you can definitely half the recipe–there is so much flexibility in this recipe that halving it would be very easy!

  2. Andree' Walker Bravo

    I’ve started making homemade bars similar to larabars. The dates/prunes hold everything together and I use a bit of coconut oil. No sugar or additives, just fruits and nuts! We’ve been experimenting with different combos of ingredients. Super good – even the kids like em!

  3. Bonnie

    Just a couple of comments from long experience…be sure the pan is oiled or you may have to eat them in chunks. Corn meal is another good flour to add, but if you use more than about 1/2 cup, the sticks will be crumbly. Peanut butter or other nut butters are at least half solid, so increase to 2/3 cup. Oats make them chewier and wheat germ or bran makes them healthier. You can add whey to make the protein content higher. My favorites are rolled quite thin–I use 2 cookie sheets instead of one. You can use water or fruit juice instead of milk if you want. The combination of dry ingredients will determine how much liquid you need, so start with the 2/3 cup and add 3 or so tablespoons at a time after that. I’d love to hear about your experiments! Anyone know how to make them gluten-free?

  4. I found a crunchy granola bar recipe last week that my family really likes. I posted the recipe on my blog, http://mommylovestrees.blogspot.com/. Let me know what you think.

    • Mae – Those look delicious. I’ll have to add them to the list of granola bars to try! Thanks!!

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