everything granola bars

We never manage to have snacks in the house beyond the occasional orange, but now that it’s spring and we’re out and about more, walking, going for runs, going to the beach, etc., having a ‘grab and go’ snack is necessary.  So… homemade granola bars it is!

I’m calling these “everything” granola bars because in order to make them, I opened my cabinets and took out almost everything in them.  Granola bars are one of those foods that is endlessly variable to your taste and the state of your cupboards.  I modeled my recipe after the Smitten Kitchen version, which is based on the King Arthur Flour recipe, but of course after I made my requisite 500 changes, my recipe is quite different from hers.

I want to be clear up front – you don’t have to ‘follow’ this recipe to make these.  Use what you like, what you have, what’s available where you live.  You can mess with the proportions even.  All that really matters is that your dry / wet proportions are such that the mixture is thick but not dry.  (By the way… many commenters on the Smitten Kitchen recipe complain that their bars crumbled.  I didn’t have that problem; I’d love to think it’s the Chian mastic that makes the difference, but the truth is I have no idea.)

So here’s how I did it.

Start with a big bowl o’ oatmeal.  I used quick oats because that’s all they sell in Greece.  Deb of Smitten Kitchen says that if you use regular oats, you should put them through a food processor first to break them up a bit.  For readers in Greece:  quick oats are the standard type in Greece (Quaker, Fytro), though they don’t say so on the package.

Scoop out about a cup of them and run them through a grain mill or a good food processor to get fine oat flour.  You can also use prepared oat flour if you have it, of course.  I used my hand-powered grain mill for this and the result was beautiful silky white oat flour and a tired bicep.

In a food processor, combine the raisins, dried blueberries, and almonds and process for several minutes.

Get out a huge bowl.  Put your oats and your oat flour in the bowl.  Add in the sugar, salt, and artificial sweetener.  (I use artificial sweetener, saccharin specifically, to keep these from getting out of control calorie-wise.  You can leave it out completely (especially if you don’t like sweet granola bars), use a different sweetener, use more sugar, whatever you like.  I don’t like aspartame, but I don’t have a beef with saccharin; if you do, just adjust the sugar to your taste.)

Add in the remaining dry ingredients:  the dried fruit from the food processor, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. Chop and add the figs. Grind and add the mastic.

I used my “Rescued Sesame Seeds” in this recipe. I collect sesame seeds that fall off of things and keep them in a jar. 99% of them come from sesame seed breadsticks. When the bag is empty, there are usually at least 2 tbsp of sesame seeds in the bottom. I love to use them in cooking – so much better than throwing them away!

I add Chian mastic to this as well. This may not be readily available where you live, so don’t worry if that’s the case; if you have it, try it. It adds a wonderful flavor and aroma and it gives the bars a bit more chewiness. Just put a few pearls in a mortar and grind them up.

Mix it all up well.

Melt the butter.  I melted mine in a bain marie (in a bowl over boiling water) but you can use a microwave if you have one.  Add the honey, glucose syrup / corn syrup, tahini, and molasses to the butter, and mix.

Pour it all over the dry ingredients and stir together.

Add the sesame oil and continue stirring until it is all combined and there are no ‘dry’ patches.  If it is too dry, add a little more sesame oil.

Put it in your pan and press it down really well so that the top is very flat and it reaches into the corners.  Bake for about half an hour.

Let it cool in the pan on a rack for several hours, and then slice into pieces.  I got 32 pieces out of this recipe (cut into quarters, then quarters again, and then halves), each piece with about 116 calories.  You can also make the pieces twice as large, 232 calories each, of course.

S and I agreed that these taste much better than the storebought kind, and they really are fun and easy to make!

Everything Granola Bars
makes 32 pieces

230g quick oats
110g white granulated sugar
5 packets saccharin (or other artificial sweetener, or another 1/2 cup sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
40g almonds (any type)
50g raisins
70g dried blueberries
30g sesame seeds
10g poppy seeds
25g shredded coconut
4 dried figs, chopped finely
1 tsp Chian mastic pearls, crushed with a mortar & pestle
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
85g butter
85g honey
2 tbsp glucose syrup / light corn syrup
1/2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp sesame oil

1. Prepare pan: line a square baking pan with a wax paper sling, and spray well with cooking spray.

2. Grind a cup of the quick oats to a fine flour. In a food processor, process raisins, almonds, and blueberries for several minutes until in small pieces.

3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, sugar, sweetener, salt, processed raisins, almonds, and blueberries, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coconut, figs, and crushed Chian mastic.

4. Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F. Melt butter. Add honey, syrup, molasses, and tahini to butter, stirring. Pour over dry ingredients and combine. Add sesame oil and combine well.

5. Pour into prepared pan. Press and smooth top until flat and even. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

6. Cool on rack in pan. When completely cool, cut into 32 pieces. Wrap in foil or store in airtight box. Can be frozen.

Nutritional Information
per piece, i.e., 1/32 of recipe

116 calories
5g fat (2g saturated, 3g unsaturated)
17g carbohydrate
2g protein
2g dietary fiber
6mg cholesterol (2% DV)
64mg sodium (3% DV)
96mg potassium (3% DV)
Contains 23% DV of manganese.

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