Hello my healthy Sweet-Toothers! Friday has finally arrived, so it’s Christine here with another STF! This week I’ve got a great recipe for you that I wasn’t quite sure what to call. I was leaning towards Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink bars, or Anything-Goes bars, but I think my boyfriend Greg summed it up nicely by calling them (with his mouth full) “delicious peanut butter granola bars.”
This idea started at the grocery store when I picked up a box of Quaker chewy oatmeal bars that I was on sale. I guess Quaker has a good marketing team because I felt totally betrayed when I checked out the back of the box…high fructose corn syrup…partially hydrogenated oil…what?! I put the bars back on the shelf, determined to make my own better version.
I’ve baked granola bars before, but they always come out rock hard—never chewy. With a little investigating, it seems the word on the (baker’s) street is that to get chewy bars, you just MAKE granola bars, not BAKE them.
Without baking the bars, the challenge is getting all the elements to hold together. This called for something sticky! I was leaning toward maple syrup, but the home-style combo of peanut butter and honey was calling my name.
As for the chickpeas I threw in the bars, I got that idea from The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. After my Blueberry Crumble Bar post from Deceptively Delicious, I thought it was only fair I give the competition a try too. The concepts indeed are similar, but Missy has an interesting recipe for roasted cinnamon sugar chickpeas called “Rattlesnacks.” She bakes them for an hour to really get them crunchy like soy nuts. I cut that time in half to make them more suitable for a chewy bar. I also tossed them in sucanat instead of sugar. Thanks to Clare in the comments section for introducing me to that sweetener!
Here’s the recipe I developed, but don’t follow it too closely- use any kind of beans, cereal, or dried fruit that you’d like!
Healthy Granola Bar Recipe
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sucanat or natural sugar
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup whole grain cereal (like brown rice krispies)
1 cup dried fruit (I used Sunmaid’s variety pack of “Fruit bits”)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
3 tbs canola oil
1 tbs ground flax seed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the ground flax seed with 1/4 cup warm water, set aside to thicken.
Toss the chickpeas in the sucanat and 1 tsp of the cinnamon. Bake for 10 minutes, stir around in the pan, then back for 10 more minutes. Add the oatmeal to the pan and bake for 5 more minutes, stirring the oatmeal once.
Stir together the peanut butter, honey, canola oil, and flax paste.
Combine the chickpeas, oatmeal, cereal, dried fruits, and remaining tsp of cinnamon.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine.
Press the mixture into a greased pan. My 9×13 casserole dish was just a little too big, so go for an 8×8 if you have it. Really PRESS and PACK IN the mixture as hard as you can. Refrigerate until firm, then cut into 24 bars.
Hope you enjoy these chewy granola bars! There is a decent amount of protein in them too from the chickpeas and the peanut butter. The chickpeas are a surprisingly nice addition to the bar- they don’t taste out of place at all. My boyfriend and I devoured our tray in no time!
That’s it for this week. By the time you read this post, I’ll be on an airplane on my way to Destin, Florida! Finally my sweet, sweet summer vacation has arrived! Cross your fingers for no hurricanes!
See you next Sweet-Tooth Friday!
For more natural sports nutrition posts and recipes, check out the Running Fuel page.