That giant Costco box of Quaker mini granola bars in my pantry (nearly empty after a few short weeks) has been mocking me. Look at all the packaging! Couldn’t they have less sugar? Even my son said we ought to be able to make homemade granola bars. So I loosely followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe. (I’m not going to copy the recipe here–just go there yourself, as you should whenever you’re looking for a well-tested recipe for anything.) I stuck to the proportions as written, but freely substituted vegetable oil for butter, maple syrup for corn syrup, whole wheat flour for oat flour, soy nut butter for almond butter–basically, I went with what was in my pantry. For the 2-3 cups of fruits and nuts, I used a mixture of sliced almonds, coconut, wheat germ, flax seeds, crispy rice cereal, dried cranberries and chocolate chips. It would be really easy to make these gluten and dairy free. Next time I may increase the wet ingredients just a little to reduce the crumble factor, increase the proportion of rice cereal, and skip the cranberries. (I like the cranberries, but a certain daughter does not. The boys happily accepted the homemade version as a worthy replacement for the shiny foil packets.) Next time I’ll double the recipe and let the kids help. This is one recipe that won’t suffer if someone is a little too enthusiastic in adding ingredients!
Coming up next: Olive oil granola vs. my “regular” granola
ETA: I have since made these bars with the changes mentioned above, and they were perfect. More rice cereal lightens the texture a smidge (and more closely resembles the Quaker bars). The recipe also doubles easily in a 9″x13″ pan–if you have more than one child in your house, just double it, or you won’t have enough for lunches the next day. And finally, you really should chill these briefly (30 minutes worked for me) before cutting them so they don’t crumble on you.