Sept. 3, 2015 | Back-to-School Granola Bars
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On September 2, I found myself wired at 11:30 pm watching Odd Mom Out while stitching “ELLA” onto a patch, the last task on a long list of getting-ready-for-Kindergarten to-dos.
The following morning, I woke up early to pack lunch and snack and to gather the remaining requested school supplies — so much to do before 7 am! — then woke the little dolly for breakfast, a slice of cinnamon toast and a glass of oj. Shortly thereafter we made our way outside but no sooner had we stepped onto the driveway than the bus appeared, the sight of which incited a meltdown. Ella clung like a koala bear to Ben, who carried her up the steps, peeled away her clutching limbs, then set her in a seat.
We could hear Ella wailing as the bus drove away. The day was not off to a good start…
… back to school has never been easy for this one.
Back home, I found myself a little helpless, walking around unable to think about anything but Ella, wondering how she was faring in a big bad elementary school, when suddenly, our babysitter Hana appeared in the kitchen, Graham and Wren at her side, a burning sparkler illuminating a tray of sushi. They began singing Happy Birthday, at which point I nearly lost it. I am not someone who cares about my birthday, but this was just too much, and as the sparkler burned and Hana encouraged me to make a wish, I found myself thinking: sushi + sparkler = best birthday cake ever? Note to self: Always find sitters whose parents run sushi restaurants.
After a delectable sushi lunch, Hana and the kids assembled bowls of chocolate mousse. I felt completely spoiled.
3:00 couldn’t have arrived a second too soon. When the bus pulled up, Ella sprinted from the steps, barrelled me over in the driveway, and exclaimed she couldn’t wait for tomorrow. I gave her a mama koala bear squeeze, which she quickly wriggled out of — things to do, friends to see I suppose. By day two, we were all smiles:
I hope you all are well and any and all back-to-school experiences have gone smoothly. I never imagined feeling this emotional about the start of kindergarten. With that in mind, I loved this post over on The Tipsy Baker: Helicopter Parents and Latchkey Kids.
Now for these granola bars. I think this is the fourth granola bar recipe I’ve posted, and I hope it’s the last. Like the granola, granola bars are something I feel I could tweak forever. I think I finally have this one to where I want it: basically a bar form of my family’s favorite granola — what a concept!
So, here I use oats, coconut, almonds and millet for the dry ingredients, the same makeup as the granola. For the glue, I use coconut oil or butter, maple syrup, brown rice syrup and almond butter. These days, I prefer a baked granola bar to a press-in-the-pan bar, so these bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, then rest for 20 minutes before they are cut. They hold their shape at room temperature and have thus become a lunch box staple. This is essentially a simplified version of these acrobatic granola bars.
1. Because two of the kids attend a peanut-free preschool, I use almonds and almond butter, but you could use peanut butter if you wish and any number of nuts if allergies aren’t a concern. I do, however, prefer the flavor of almond butter — it doesn’t dominate the way peanut butter does.
2. The recipe this is based on calls for corn syrup, which I know is not dreadful in moderation, but I just don’t love using it. That said, I’m not totally convinced the alternatives — brown rice syrup, Lyle’s golden syrup, etc. — are really any better? Somehow brown rice syrup feels the least offensive, so that’s what I use.
Coconut-Almond Granola Bars
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 12-18 bars (or more) depending on how you cut them
- 1 cup (104 g) rolled oats
- 1½ cups (150 g) sliced almonds
- 1 cup (44 g) flaked or shredded coconut
- ¼ cup millet
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil or melted butter
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup almond butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Dump the oats, almonds and coconut into a food processor and pulse briefly — 10 seconds or so.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add millet and salt and toss to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, rice syrup, maple syrup, almond butter and vanilla until emulsified. Add to bowl of oats and toss to combine.
- Line a 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper overhanging the edge a bit. Transfer mixture to pan and spread to fill. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove pan from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove block of bars by pulling up on parchment paper and transfer to cutting board. Cut into desired shape. Store at room temperature in a ziplock bag or tupperware.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
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35 Comments on “Sept. 3, 2015 | Back-to-School Granola Bars”
That pout is awesome! I had one just like it. Still do! I remember the first day of kindergarten for both of my kids. I cried. They didn’t. I think I cried every first day of school all the way through elementary school. This year I was stoic as my oldest went off for his senior year. I can cry at the drop of a dime so this was an amazing feat!
Glad you had a good birthday and that Ella liked school after all.
Oh Lisa, I am sure I will be crying every year, too. Doesn’t take much for me either 🙂
I love the pout and remember it well when someone near and dear to me had a meltdown at the bus!!! Aren’t they wonderful?? When my daughter came home at the end of her day, she was as happy as a clam with a full agenda for tomorrow! Glad that you had a stellar birthday and thanks so much for the granola bar recipe!
Great to hear from you Jennifer! So funny. I think it’s just that first day that’s just so much. Fingers crossed the smiles continue 🙂
Happy Birthday!!!! Oh big hugs for the kiddies! I dropped my little one off at Mom’s Day Out for the first time, but I was the one balling my eyes out and had to run away while my baby happily made friends.
Alexandra, I love your posts. Can I ask you an annoying question because brown rice syrup is hard to come by in my neck of the woods and like you I’m adverse to corn syrup…would honey work and taste good?
Really sorry I’m that person….
Dana, you could never be that person! Great to hear from you. Brown rice syrup can be tricky to find. I think honey is a good option. I recently read this post on Epicurious: [sorry … link no longer active]
Let me know how they turn out!
Ah! I was that kid that clung to her mom the first day of kindergarten. 🙂 It sounds like your babysitter is a keeper too. Hope you had a great birthday!
I made your butternut squash lasagna for my sixth anniversary earlier this month and it was delicious! We like our meat so I wasn’t too sure, but we didn’t miss it. It’s the first recipe in a long while that I’ve given “5 stars” to and plan to make again.
She is such a keeper! But sadly her last day is tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
So happy to hear about the lasagna! I was completely surprised, too — we all (meat-lovers included) love this one.
Happy Belated Birthday, Ali! Glad it was a good one.
On my daughter’s first day of kindergarten, her dad and I walked her to school. When we arrived and opened the front doors, she turned around and looked at us and said sweetly, “I love you. But, don’t you have somewhere you need to be?” We were speechless. We told her we needed to help her carry her big bag of supplies. So she acquiesced. She seemed quite relieved though. I was the one that cried my eyes out on the way home.
Kids are so funny. Happy that precious Ella had a great day.
Thank you, Trish!
That is the funniest story — what a character! She sounds very independent, and that’s a good thing. Kids are funny. xo
Hugs! These big transitions are hard for everyone. I bet she has a smile on her face every day, especially while eating these delicious bars! People do groan about packing lunches and snacks, especially because of *all* the things that need doing before 7 am, but it can also be a way to “be there” for your girl during the day. You’re sending her off with tasty food, the equivalent of a hug and kiss! Since we have nut allergies in the house, I think I’ll try these with seeds and sunflower butter. And since I have also gone back to school (I teach), they’re a perfect snack for me, too!
I know, totally, there is something fun about thinking about them opening their lunch every day and reminded of us while they’re in their own little worlds. I would be so interested as to how these come out with sunbutter — I bought a tub but haven’t tried yet. And I have been thinking about sunflower seeds and pepitas, too — thinking a allergy-free bar would be so nice for people to have in their recipe box. Hugs to you too!
Ella is so expressive! I’m glad to hear that her dislike of going back to school was only short-lived. It sounds like she’s ready to tackle the adventures that the new year will bring her.
PS. And, um, sushi birthday cake? AMAZING. Happy Belated Birthday, Ali! <3
Thank you, Michelle! I know, thankfully the dislike was short-lived. She is totally loving it now. xo
Adorable people, every one.
Since we are addicted to the coconut oil granola, we might as well fall for the bars, too. Thank you. I made your brown butter blondies yesterday and even without the right kind of flour they turned out amazing. A double batch.
Oh Martha, this makes me so happy. I hope you like the bars. They have been so nice to have on hand this time of year. And thank you! I feel weird even mentioning my birthday.
This is great. I went through a serious phase with the Smitten Kitchen chewy granola bars, but started to find them a little too sweet (definitely not because I loaded them up with chocolate, right?!). This summer I have gone through at least three batches of your toasted muesli and love it, but it crumbled completely when I took it places as a snack. Also, it is so delicious that I really need the portion control of bars… and here is the perfect solution. My first batch is in the oven now.
I have gone through so many phases with granola bars — I think part of it has to do with how our tastes change over the years. You know? I definitely went through a chocolate chip granola bar phase, too. I so hope these turn out well for you! Glad to hear you like the toasted muesli.
Happy first day of Fall pumpkin! These look amazing and I need to make them to have something easy to snack on while I’m working from home….I’m so stoked about Fall and soup and new recipes…..The pictures of the kids are priceless and I well remember the days of crying over my kids going off to school….nowadays it’s the 8 lb Morkie I can’t bear to leave for a minute!
Can’t wait to try these! Roughly how long do you think the bars will last/be good for at room temp? (Assuming we don’t gobble them up right away!) Thanks!
Hi Claire! They keep really well at room temperature. I don’t think they’ve ever lasted more than a week, so I will say at least a week if not longer. I keep them in a ziplock bag.
Oh, those precious babes! A belated Happy Birthday to you! What a treat that sushi must have been. Thanks for this recipe. I just signed up for the coffee hostess rotation at church. I think these granola bars will be a nice alternative to store-bought cookies. Take care now!
Thank you, Allison! And so nice to hear from you. These are great with coffee. xo
I chanced upon your blog about a month ago. I have so enjoyed trying out several of your delicious recipes. Even more, I have enjoyed simply visiting your place here. You have a wonderful writing style, authentic and refreshing, and your responses to readers are always so kind and gracious. I hope you keep blogging for a long time to come!
Anna, thank you! It means so much to hear this. I hope to be blogging for a long time to come as well! Thank you for writing in.
Another wonderful recipe & we followers SO love the sharing of your beautiful family.
As for the granola bars, I made a few changes due to lack of all ingredients – Combined whole almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds & did not pre-pulse (to simplify). I read recently dried fruit is equivalent to adding candy (glad to see it not in the recipe). I did not add the vanilla (should have) & did see the bars were surprisingly not oversweet. Your wet ingredients was the perfect combo for holding it all together. Goes well with a glass of your cashew milk! With immense thanks for the continuation of your most inspiring blog.
I need to try these with the addition of seeds — I have been adding pumpkin and sunflower seeds to my breads, and they add such a nice flavor. Glad to know about the dried fruit too! Thank you as always for your kind words.
Loved these. Mine took almost 30 minutes in the oven but they were absolutely delicious!
I have made these twice now, but they fall apart so easily. I have been using an 8×8 pan. Do you think a bigger pan would help?
Hi Bea, so strange! I’m sorry for the trouble. Are you using the brown rice syrup? But yes, I do think a 9×9 pan would help because the bars will be thinner.
hi! can i use quinoa instead of millet? im out of millet and want to make them tonight! xoxo
I’d like to try these. My kids love chocolate chips in their granola bars so I will try and cut back slightly on the syrups and add some. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Enjoying your blog💛 immensely and plan on purchasing your book on Amazon. I want to make these Oatmeal Bars but can’t find this syrup locally. Do you think maple syrup would work?? ty
Thank you, Kalani! I think maple syrup or honey will be fine — the bars might not hold together as well, but the flavor will still be good 🙂