I'm always looking for inventive ways to eat more whole grains, like rolled oats. I just can't eat oatmeal everyday. Plus, It's so convenient having something quick to grab as I run out the door in the morning--especially if I need fuel for an early morning workout. These granola bars give me the fuel I need in a "grab-and-go" kind of way. But if you're looking to mix it up a little, you can always break some off and mix it in Greek yogurt for a protein and fiber-packed breakfast or snack.
I pretty much bought all of these ingredients in bulk. Purchasing in bulk is great because you can buy whatever quantity you need. My neighborhood Whole Foods had everything I was looking for: rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, amaranth, and dates. This recipe is fairly straightforward. The hardest part is mixing the date syrup into all of the grains, nuts, and seeds---just because it is so sticky. I made quite a mess since my bowl wasn't very large. So, use a decent-sized bowl so that everything won't go flying out as you try to mix in the syrup. Plus, you have to use all of your might to press the granola into the baking pan. That way, your baked bars will actually stick together!
I took these out of the pan after letting them cool for about two hours while I was at the gym. When I returned home, my house was filled with the rustic, homey smell of roasted oats and nuts. Nothing smells more appetizing than freshly roasted nuts.
Homemade Granola Bar Recipe (Makes 12-16)
Nonstick spray or vegetable oil for coating the pan 6 large dates, pitted and chopped 1/2 cup molasses + 1/4 cup honey (may sub with 1 cup maple syrup) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (may sub with virgin coconut oil) 2 cups old-fashioned oats 1/2 cup raw nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or cashews) 1 cup seeds (sunflower or pumpkin, or mixture of the two) 2 tablespoons amaranth (may sub with sesame seeds) 1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips (optional) 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt
*You can also use a muffin pan if you don't have a loaf pan. Just line it with muffin cups and fill about halfway. You will have to reduce the baking time.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat an 8" x 4" loaf pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang so that the baked loaf can be easily removed. Lightly coat the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
- Boil dates and molasses + honey in a small pan, stirring often until dates are very soft (8-10 minutes). Remove mixture from heat and stir in butter. Use a fork or an immersion blender to smash the dates until smooth.
- Toss remaining ingredients into a bowl. Mix in date syrup until all ingredients are evenly coated. Press the mixture into the loaf pan as firmly as possible.
- Bake 45-50 minutes. Cover with foil if the loaf starts to burn. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour. Lift out loaf and slice into 1/2" slices with a serrated knife. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature up to five days. *For Crunchy Bars: Bake sliced bars at 350 on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.