Thursday, July 11, 2013

No-Bake Homemade Granola Bars

I'll say it.  I'm cheap.  I don't like spending money when I don't have to, and I love saving some change at the grocery store.  In general, I try not to buy a lot of processed foods.  They are full of mystery ingredients and can be pretty pricey.  Plus, I like to make stuff myself.  Why would I buy something I could make it?

A great example of this is granola bars.  There was a time in my life when I used to eat a granola bar every afternoon as a snack.  They are convenient, delicious, and if you choose carefully, they can even be healthy.  But you can certainly pay a price for that convenience.  And who knows what you will find in them?  Fortunately, making  your own granola bars at home is easy and cost effective.  Plus, this allows you to tailor your bars to your own personal taste.  

I started making my own granola bars several months ago.  On those cold winter mornings, my husband was having some trouble getting out of bed at his usual time.  And in his rush to leave the house, he didn't have time to sit down and eat breakfast.  So I started making these as something he could grab and go on his way out the door, and eat later.  I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and keep them all in a Ziploc bag.  It works great!

I have made other granola bars, but this recipe is my favorite, so it is the one I have decided to share.  What do I love about this recipe?  First of all, it is no-bake.  Other recipes I have made were baked.  They were good, had pretty similar ingredients, and had a texture kind of like a Nature's Valley bar, i.e., crispy.  But not having to bake these makes them even faster to prepare.  Plus, I love not having to turn on the oven to make granola bars in the summer.  Didn't I say I was cheap?

Because these aren't baked, they are more like a chewy-style granola bar.  And they are delicious.  Oh, and did I mention easy?  I can't stress that enough!  All you have to do is stir together Rice Krispie cereal, oats, raisins, and peanuts.  Then melt together brown sugar, syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Stir it all together, press it into a pan, cool and cut, and, voila!  You have your very own super yummy homemade granola bars.

As I said previously, another great thing about making your own granola bars is the ability to personalize them.  I used raisins and peanuts because they are economical (aka "cheap").  But feel free to change it up if you want.  Use any combination of dried fruit or nuts.  I think cranberries and pecans sounds tasty.  Or maybe you would prefer coconut and almonds?  Go for it!  I have also used different kinds of cereal.  I have used Honey Nut Cheerios in place of some of the Rice Krispies.  Even the sweetener is swap-able.  Try honey or agave nectar instead of syrup if  you want to go for a more natural granola bar.  The possibilities are endless!
The bottom line is that making your own granola bars is awesome.  All the cool kids are doing it.  It's tastier, healthier, customizable, and just plain fun.  Don't believe me?  Just try it for yourself.  I'm sure you'll love it too!

No-Bake Homemade Granola Bars
2 1/2 cup Rice Krispies
2 cups oats
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light pancake syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, stir together Rice Krispies, oats, peanuts, and raisins.  Set aside.
In a small saucepan, stir together brown sugar and syrup over medium-high heat.  Continue stirring until mixture comes to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla.  Stir until peanut butter is melted.
Add peanut butter mixture to cereal mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Firmly press mixture into 8x8-inch baking pan.  Allow to cool.
When cooled, but into bars of desired size.

Recipe adapted from Oregon State Extension.

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