One of my first memories is of a granola bar. Isn't it funny what you can remember? I had to have been in kindergarten because we were living in our first hour and we moved the summer in between kindergarten and first grade. I was playing baseball with a group of boys in one of their backyards. I was a complete tomboy so this was nothing new.
Anyhow, I was playing baseball and we must have taken a break and grabbed a few granola bars. We were sitting around eating them when I crunched on something hard. I immediately thought it was a peanut, which I hated, and spit it out. A minute later I realized I had lost my first tooth! Cue the panic as I crawled around in the grass frantically looking for the tooth.
That's a very vivid memory and while it was a little traumatic, I did find the tooth, I still eat granola bars, and I still don't like peanuts. While I will buy granola bars at the store, I prefer to make my own. My only problem is that I have a hard time getting them to stick together because I won't use peanut butter or other nut butters to help them stick.
I found a recipe in Cook's Illustrated which is my cooking guru magazine. It's my go to for anything because I have yet to find a recipe from them that doesn't turn out decently. So I made a batch of these Chewy Granola Bars with Pecans and Cranberries.
The flavors in these granola bars is spot on. They are sweet but not overly sweet, the cranberries add a tartness, the nuts adds some crunch, and they are packed with superfoods. In order for them to stick together you make a sticky paste of dried apricots, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. It helps hold everything together.
Once these bars were out of the oven and had cooled I cut them in to pieces. The ones that were end pieces stuck together just fine but the middle pieces fell apart. I simply took the pieces that fell apart and put them in an air tight bag and used them for granola on top of my yogurt.
The flavor of these bars is delicious. They are sticky, sweet, crunchy, and full of flavor. I love grabbing one when I am on the go for breakfast or whenever I need a mid-day snack. The only thing I would do differently next time is to reduce the amount of oats and up the amount of apricots. I think this would help them stick together better.
But, if you like homemade granola bars and are looking for a peanut free option, make sure you give these a try!
- 1 c. pecans
- 2 c. oats
- 1 c. raw sunflower seeds
- 1 c. dried apricots
- ½ c. brown sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 3 T. chia seeds
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- ¼ c. water
- 1½ c. Rice Krispies cereal
- 1 c. craisins
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet of foil on a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- On another baking sheet combine the pecans, oats, and sunflower seeds. Toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees.
- Meanwhile, place the apricots, brown sugar, salt, and chia seeds in a food processor. Process until the apricots are almost pureed. With the food processor running, drizzle in the oil and water. Continue to process until a paste forms.
- Pour the apricot paste into a large bowl. Add the oat mixture and stir until combined.
- Add in the cereal and cranberries and stir gently until everything is mixed together.
- Spread into the prepared pan and flatten into an even layer.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool 1 hour.
- Use the foil and lift the granola out and on to a wire rack and cool for an additional 1 hour.
- Place the granola bars on a cutting board and cut into 20-24 bars.
- Store iin an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.
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