5 Minute “Choose your own adventure” Granola Bars

5 minute granola bars with oats, cheerios, raisins, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.

Anyone remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? I hear they are making a comeback. Anyway, these granola bars are coming to you courtesy of some post-best (read: expired) tahini and a random not so good cookie recipe…I’ll spare you the details, but 5+ trials later here we are!

The result is this super-customizable, super-fast granola bar recipe. Right now, the super-fast part is key. In fact, I’m hoping for this to be the first in a series of recipes that I will call While you were napping – recipes you can make while a baby sleeps for an indeterminate amount of time. Catchy, right?

Yield: 16 1×4″ granola bars

Ingredients:

  • 135g nut/seed butter
  • 135g honey
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3/4 cup mix-ins, a good starting point is:
    • 1-3/4 cup rolled oats (base mix-in)
    • 1/2 cup nuts
    • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Tools Required:

  • 8″x8″ pan, lined with parchment
  • serrated knife
  • silicone spatula

Instructions:

  1. Mix the honey, nut/seed butter, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Fold in the mix-ins. Stir until everything is evenly distributed and coated with the honey mixture.
  3. Press the mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes at 350F in a conventional oven (20 minutes at 325F with 1 fan in the Rationale).

Variations:

  • Syrups: instead of honey, try maple syrup or malt syrup for a different flavour. You could also be gross and use corn syrup.
  • Nut/seed butter: I really love tahini here, but feel free to use other nut/seed butters that you have on hand.
  • Spices: cinnamon is a good starting point but substitute for other seasoning based on the kind of bar you’re making. Choose your own adventure!
  • Base mix-in: oats are traditional (and great because they’re cheap and likely to be found in your cupboard), but another option is to substitute breakfast cereals as a base mix-in: this is a great way to use up any cereal that has been lingering around in your cupboard. Results will probably vary depending on the cereal (smaller will likely work better, or crush it before using) – we haven’t tested this extensively yet.
  • Really, almost anything goes! You can also adjust the ratio of mix-ins suggested here to suit what you have available.
  • (Protein) powders: not ideal. We tried several variations adding/substituting various protein powders but the result was always not as good as the original. The addition of powder affects the resulting texture (less chewy, more crumbley), so if you’re desperate to add more protein I’d suggest something else (maybe an energy ball style snack). Sure, you could add just a little powder (we’re talking less than 1/4 cup here folks) and it would be ok but then (from a nutritional perspective) what’s the point?

FAQs, Tips, Troubleshooting:

  • Bake the bars until they are slightly browned at the edges and golden throughout for a dense, chewy bar (my personal preference), or go a little lighter in colour for a softer bar.
  • Once baked, press the bars firmly (this is easiest to do with the bottom of a same-sized pan) before they’ve cooled to compact them. This will help to make sure they don’t fall apart when you cut them.
  • Use a serrated knife to cut the bars (saw, don’t press!). Royce says he used a chefs knife at school and it worked just fine. I tried this at home unsuccessfully several times before giving up. I think it partially depends on the size and shape, as well as what kinds of mix-ins you use.
  • There is some flexibility on the mix-in amounts (especially with different-sized ingredients) but don’t go too crazy or you might end up with granola bars.

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