Chewy Peanut Butter Fruit and Nut Granola Bars are packed with toasted oats and nuts, dried fruit and sweetened with maple and brown rice syrup. vegan + gluten free.
Rob’s been sick with a dreadful winter cold. Luckily it wasn’t the flu. I’ve been drinking copious amounts of this citrus ginger mint green smoothie, to avoid any bug that might encroach. Despite my tactics, I woke Saturday morning with a nasty sore throat. I don’t remember the last time I was sick.
Thing is I really don’t feel terrible over all, just enough to slow me down rolling out of bed or to tire me a bit earlier in the evening. Perhaps my body is responding better because of the smoothies? It’s hard to tell.
But despite my mild cold, I still went for long walks. We’ve been having sprinkly, and relatively warm weather lately making it really nice to head outside; my inspiration for these grab n’ go chewy granola bars. I guess being back outdoors regularly for some exercise has made me feel like Spring is not too far away.
Song birds have started singing their sweet melodic songs again, our camellia is about to bloom and the short days are slowly, but noticeably, getting longer.
One of my favorite things to have on hand is grab n’ go snacks (so much so I wrote a recipe book on the subject!). Things I can put together relatively quickly and is easily portable. You’ve seen them floating around Vanilla And Bean; from pumpkin kasha energy bites and maple pecan granola to bourbon date nut truffles (sub espresso for bourbon for non celebratory snacks!).
Besides fruit, nuts or dreaded grab the bag of black pepper Kettle chips and
eat a few devour the whole bag, I like to have better-for-me options on hand.
A Few Recipe Notes:
- These are not no bake granola bars, y’all. Toasting the nuts, seeds and oats prior to assembly brings out deeper nutty flavors and textures. It’s worth the effort.
- These bars are chewy, yet have a nice crunch from the nuts and seeds, naturally sweetened with maple and brown rice syrup.
- Drizzle with chocolate, either bittersweet or semisweet (I went with raw cacao). This is optional, depending on your needs. I find the chocolate can get messy if it’s warm out!
- These Peanut Butter Granola Bars store for weeks in the fridge and are easily portable (sans chocolate). They are also vegan and optionally gluten free.
Chewy Peanut Butter Fruit and Nut Granola Bars
For the Bars:
- 3 C Thick Rolled Oats not quick oats, 333 g
- 1 1/2 C Mixed Raw Unsalted Nuts; I use walnuts, pecans, and almonds (210 g)
- 1/2 C Raw Sunflower Seeds 76 g
- 1/2 C Dried Cranberries 74 g
- 1/2 C Dried Apricots 106 g
- 1 1/3 C Natural Peanut Butter crunchy (345 g)
- 3/4 C Maple Syrup 230 ml
- 1/2 C Brown Rice Syrup 170 ml
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
For Drizzling (optional):
- 4 Tbs Dark Cacao + 2 Tbs Coconut Oil melted and still warm *see note, I use raw Cacao
For the Bars:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment and pour the oats on so that they are spread evenly. Toast the oats for 25-30 minutes or until golden and toasty. On a separate pan, toast all the nuts for 18-20 and on a third separate pan, toast the seeds for 15-20 minutes or until golden and toasty. We want to keep the nuts and sunflower seeds separated as the nuts will be chopped and the sunflower seeds need to remain whole. (round cake pans work well here).
Line a 13"x9" baking dish with parchment paper. Secure the parchment paper to the two long sides with clips.
While the nuts, seeds and oats are toasting, rough chop the cranberries and apricots. Add them to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a 2 quart sauce pan, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, salt and vanilla extract until all the ingredients come together. Gently warm the mixture on low just until it is pourable. If needed, use a whisk to get the ingredients to come together.
Add the toasted oats and sunflower seeds to the large mixing bowl with the dried fruit. Rough chop the nuts and add them to the dried fruit/oat/nut mixture in the large mixing bowl.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix throughly.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it evenly in the dish. Use your hands to press the mixture in. The firmer the press, the better!
Refrigerate the granola for at least 1 1/2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes.
Lift the granola out of the pan using the parchment as handles. Cut into 1 1/2" x 4" bars.
Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freezer for up to a month.
For the Drizzle (optional):
Mix the cacao and warmed oil in a small bowl. Mix until ingredients are incorporated. Drizzle over the granola bars. Pop in the fridge for a few minutes to allow chocolate to set.
Raw Cacao drizzle will be bitter. If a sweeter chocolate is desired, melt 1/4 C Vegan SemiSweet Chocolate Chips (44 g) according to package directions.
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