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Homemade Granola Bars: crowd-pleasing & easy, too!

I came to realize that there were a handful of grocery items that really added to our level of waste: milk (at least we can recycle the jugs), cereal (boxes recycled, inner bags usually not), and granola bars (CLIF might have a recycling program for their wrappers, but all the other shiny ones are usually chucked into the landfill).  

So, I have been experimenting with making granola bars using ingredients I can buy in bulk (nuts, sugar, oats, choco chips!, dried fruit).  Other mamas have recently asked me for recipes, and lots of us seem to be experimenting, so I thought it'd be fun to share tips, tricks, and favorite recipes.

The hardest part is getting the consistency down, making sure the liquid binders (maple syrup, honey, butter, peanut butter, coconut oil, etc) is ample to hold it all together.  When I mix it all together, if the end result doesn't look sticky enough, I'll throw in a beaten egg, which is sure to keep it all together.  So far, two of my favorite recipies are from Alton Brown and this thick chewey bar recipe that happens to be gluten-free (one of our kids is gluten-free).

Have you made granola bars at home?  Best recipes to share to make the perfect bar?  Must-try ingredients and mix-ins?

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I've had good results from Smitten Kitchen's bar.

http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/02/thick-chewy-granola-bars/

(I sub ww flour for the oat flour.)

I make these, from Sunset Magazine: http://www.theweekendentertainer.com/?p=92

They're quite tasty, everyone in the family likes them, they don't require cooking, and the nutritional info listed in the magazine seemed good (about 150 cal/bar if you get 16 svgs, i think). I use more like 1 c of dates and also usually throw in a few chocolate chips. I guess they're gluten free too, since the only grain is oats. I keep them in the freezer and just take them out as needed.

We made these a couple of weeks ago. Not sure where recipe was from. We are nut free here and these are gluten free too. I would almost make them into balls, they are pretty sticky. 6 year old said they were too sweet?! What?

1/2 cup sunflower butter (or peanut or other nut)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 oil of your choice
1 cup oats
1 cup TOTAL of combination: sea same seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, dried fruit, mini chocolate chips (we used roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and mini-chocolate chips).

Melt together nut butter, oil and honey. Off heat add oats. Add cup of mixed things. Stir well. Spread into 8x8 or 9x4 pan. Chill for at least two hours. Cut into bars or roll into balls. I kept them in the fridge prior to packing for snacks and lunch.

Enjoy!

My family used to love these before we went grain free.

http://www.joyfulabode.com/2008/04/11/homemade-granola-bar-recipe-no-high-fructose-corn-syrup-in-these-bars/

I cut the sugar in half--way too sweet, but otherwise, a great recipe. And any nut/dried fruit/seed combo works.

The Terracycle site says they accept all foil-backed wrappers, and not just Clif....

"All energy, granola, nutrition, cereal and protein bars with an inner foil lining are acceptable. We do not accept wrappers that do not have the foil lining or candy wrappers."

Dates blended in a food processor with any nut or dried fruit then rolled in coconut or ground up nuts make great bars!

http://www.mealmakeovermoms.com has a great one I have made over and over - grab and go granola bars - different every time and my kids devour them.

Cara, thanks for mentioning Meal Makeover Moms. Just checked it out and I really like their website.

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