Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

I try not to post too many recipes that are adaptations of things recently posted on the internet, but I'm making an exception today. Because I'm really loving these bars from Loves Veggies and Yoga (I'm really loving this blog in general truth be told.)

These bars are very good. We've made them many times since I discovered them (which wasn't very long ago). They're also incredibly cheap compared to their store-bought counterparts (more on that in a minute), and much healthier. But the main reason I'm in love with them is that we're in a bit of a snack food crisis around here. School began last month, meaning my kids need transportable foods. And Kip, who often works nights, needs quick easy foods to snack on or he will eat quick easy candy bars and whatever junk they have hanging around at various ER's (cupcakes, ding dongs, that sort of thing). I need some stuff in the freezer that I can toss at people as the need arises.

And, yes, I could fill my pantry with the granola bars from Walmart if I wished, but let's talk about that for a minute or two:

The last time I bought granola bars from Walmart was this summer. We were going swimming. I had to go shopping. It was a desperate moment. And in those bars I got myself the sort of thing a desperate moment usually delivers (no, not another baby): 5 bars in a package designed to fit 6 bars (a pet peeve of mine) for $2.00, about 2 tsp (or 8 grams) of sugar per bar, and lots and lots of ingredients I didn't understand. Since I got the high fiber bars (an accident) they did have tons of fiber (about 9 grams), but the very first ingredient was chicory root extract. Yummy. And also, or so I hear from the comments on this site, extremely gassy (we didn't have issues for the record).

The chocolate peanut butter granola bars I made:

*Cost $1.25 for more than double the number (and weight) of the store-bought bars.
*About 6 grams (or just over a teaspoon) sugar per serving (yes, I know chocolate chips aren't a whole food or the best thing in the world, but I think it can compete with shellac, high fructose corn syrup, barley flakes, and hydrogenated coconut oil--to name just 4 of the approximately 18 non-pantry ingredients contained in the store-bought bar)
*Prep time: 4 minutes. I bet the check out line at your Walmart can't compete with that. (Or the ingredient reading thing that happens in the aisle for that matter.)
*3 grams fiber per serving (none of it from chicory root, thank you very much). And of course if you add some nuts and dried berries, this number will go up quickly.

Which reminds me that one of the other great things about these bars is that you can make them more or less virtuous to suit your tastes. You can add in flax seed and nuts and dried berries. Or you can throw in a few more teaspoons of sugar and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Makes 9x13 pan or 8 long bars or 12 store-bought sized bars
Prep and cook time: 5 minutes (though to be fair, these do have to set up for about 10 minutes in the fridge)
Cost: $1.35 for 12 bars (that's .11 per bar)
(choc. chips: .45, PB: .45, milk: .08, oats: .27, and a few more Tbsp chocolate chips: .10)

Melt in microwave, stirring or whisking at 20 second intervals:

1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C milk (can be dairy or a non-dairy variety)

To this add and stir in :

1 splash of vanilla if you remember it (let's say 1/2 tsp)
1 Tbsp sugar (or agave or raw sugar or honey). You can skip the sugar if you wish. You can also add more if you want a sweeter bar.

To this add and stir in:

2 C oats (I use quick)

To this add and stir in:

1 C dry ingredients (more oats if you're not daring; otherwise you can try dry fruit, coconut, flax seed, protein powder, nuts, whatever). We used more oats since I didn't think anything else would go over with the masses.

You're going to have a thick "dough" that looks like no bake cookie "dough." It should start to ball together as you mix.

At that point, press it into a 9x13 inch pan (I put parchment paper in mine to make removing and cutting easy, but you don't have to). Your hands will get a little messy; wet them with a bit of water if the stuff is sticking to them too badly.

Once you've got your "dough" all pressed in, you can press some toppings into your bars--more chocolate chips, nuts, dates, cherries--the sky's the limit. We used chocolate chips (tell me you just fainted from the shock). And one of the really really great things about the end press method is that if you like things your family members don't, you can press some nuts, seeds, or dried fruit into a portion just for you. Ha. I do like me some personalized granola bars.

Refrigerate bars until hard. I leave mine overnight. If you want them quickly, throw them in the freezer for 10 minutes.

To store these, I cut them and then layer them between parchment paper (I use the same parchment paper that I lined the pan with--cheap and lazy, yup). I store them in the refrigerator or freezer and when one is needed I toss it in a Ziploc bag.



  1. Jeanie, I need to say it again - most recipe blogs I skip if the recipe doesn't float my boat that day...I NEVER skip yours. NEVER.

    Because, even in the midst of writing about granola bars for heaven's sake, you're hilarious.

    I'm so glad I found your blog.

    That's all from stalker land!

  2. Hurray for stalker land. And thank you.

  3. These sound delicious! I've learned my boys will eat just about anything if I put chocolate chips in it so I have no problem with you using them here. Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your link.

  4. Yes, we're definitely wooed by the chocolate chips too. My kids are really loving granola bars right now, so I like to have control over what I put in them.

  5. Yummy! Thanks for the recipe. It was so easy and so quick! I can't wait for my 2 year old to wake up and try them. :)



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