You guys. I didn’t work at all from Friday through Monday, and it was fantastic. I brought my work with me to Memphis, but I opted for sleeping in, reading and watching the Olympics instead. I also carried some granola bars with me, tucked into my bag next to my neglected laptop, and I’m so glad I did.
No time for breakfast? Granola bars to the rescue. Hungry on the plane? Granola bars sure beat pretzels. Long span between lunch and dinner? Again, granola bars. They kept my blood sugar levels consistent, and kept me from turning into an irritable, hypoglycemic mess.
I can verify that these no-bake bars, which are comprised with oats, almonds, and coconut, and naturally sweetened with honey (or maple syrup) are some effective, energy-rich goodies. I’m never traveling without these again. They would also be ideal snacks for lunch bags and hungry kids who have just arrived home from school. They’re lot more flavorful and give more sticking power than any of the store-bought choices I met as a kid. Granola bars are the answer!
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1 ¾ cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats, mashed briefly in a food processor or blender to break them up) (or old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a food processor or blender to break them up)
- 1 cup big, unsweetened coconut flakes (shredded coconut should work, too) (shredded coconut should work, too)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
- Line a 9-inch square baker with two strips of criss-crossed parchment paper, trimmed to fit neatly against the base and along the sides. The parchment paper will make it easy for you to slice the bars later.
- Toast the almonds for maximum flavor (you can skip this step, but your bars won’t be quite as awesome): In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, tossing regularly, until they are aromatic and starting to turn gently golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a medium mixing bowl.
- To the mixing bowl, add the oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt. Stir until mixed.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, measure out 1 cup almond butter. Top with ½ cup honey, followed with the vanilla extract. Whisk until thoroughly blended. (If you must, you can gently warm the liquid combination in the microwave or on the stovetop.)
- Pour the liquid components into the dry ingredients. Use a heavy spoon to mix them together until the two are evenly incorporated and no dry oats remain. The drier the mixture, the more hard the bars will be, so whisk in extra oats if the mixture seems damp. Conversely, if you used a particularly thick almond butter (cough, Justin’s), you might need to sprinkle in another tablespoon of honey to help it all stick together.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared square baker. Use your spoon to put the mixture fairly equally in the baker, then use the bottom of a flat, round surface (like a small, strong drinking glass) to pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible. (If the mixture keeps adhering to the glass, cover the base of the glass with a small square of parchment paper.)
Also read: Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal
- Cover the baker and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight. This allows the oats time to absorb moisture so the granola bars can set.
- When you’re ready to slice, remove the bars out of the baker by grasping both pieces of parchment paper on opposing corners. Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the mixture into 4 even rows and 4 even columns (these “bars” hold together better in a square shape).
- For transportation, you can wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Bars keep nicely for a couple of days at room temperature, but I recommend putting individually wrapped bars in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer for optimal flavor. They’ll keep for several months in the freezer.