Chewy Granola Bars

Friday, Aug 26 2011 Cooking!

On the eve of my first vacation in quite some time—a long-anticipated coastal backpacking anniversary trip—I became fixated with the idea of creating my own snacks for the trip, specifically in the form of homemade, chewy, pecan-filled granola bars. Regardless of the more essential items on my to-do-list of packing, planning, and shopping, my need begin to border on obsession. It’s partly because working up to a vacation is extra taxing, and when my head is buried in the computer for far too long, my most essential outlet to maintain sanity is time playing in the kitchen. As a restorative practice, nothing comes close. (The only downside is that the more stress I have to work out, the more dishes I make.)

After exploring several chewy granola bar recipes, I understood the basics: the more liquids the more chewy the bar, the more stuff inside the more flavor, and that nearly anything sweet, crunchy, or chewy goes. I assembled my oats and what my palate considers the most reliable main players—roasted pecans, shredded coconut and dried cherries. Any combination of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or even chocolate would do.

Since we were going to be hiking and packing all our food with us for our several day trip, granola bars were the ultimate dense and nutritious bring along food. It’s true that food tastes better while camping, and these were extraordinary—it’s easy to proclaim them the best granola bars I’ve ever had. Truth be told, I don’t even like most granola bars. Chewy, sweet, nutty—these little nuggets were undeniably closer to delicious treat than merely life sustaining food. Since long summer days require trips to the beach, river and mountains, packing easy to travel snacks are essential—so we can stay out there as long as possible without needing to reach the surface for a while.


2.5 cups gf quick rolled oats
3 cups stuff (suggestion: 1 cup nuts, 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, 1 cup dried fruit)
1/4 cup almond flour (can substitute for another mild flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup honey, maple syrup or agave


Oil a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside (I prefer coconut oil). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking dish with parchment.

Spread the oats and nuts onto a baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut and toast for an additional 5 minutes. Take out and allow to cool. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. (If you’d prefer a less sweet bar, reduce the brown sugar by half.)

Once the liquid has cooled a bit, combine all ingredients. Place into the baking dish lined with parchment and press down firmly, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish. Slightly oiled hands, or plastic wrap on top of the bars helps here. Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely—preferably overnight in the fridge. Cut into squares with a sharp, serrated knife.

Tip: These are perfect at room temperature, but impenetrable when cold. Store at room temperature, and in an airtight container they will keep for a week.