Tag Archives: granola bars

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me really well is familiar with my love for peanut butter and jelly. I could eat a PB&J sandwich every day. If it weren’t for all the other wonderful nut butters in the world I probably would. My fridge is always stocked with at least two, more likely three or four, different kinds of nut or seed butters. Right now I have a GIANT jar of PB, a tub of tahini, and a jar of T.J.’s sunflower seed butter. I’ve been on a serious open-face, forget-the-jelly, nut butter on toast sandwich kick lately. That and toast with avocado, smoked sea salt, and pepper are my lunchtime obsessions.

Back to the peanut butter and jelly. I used to find peanut butter kinda scary. It was sooo high-calorie and so high-fat! I tried to get away with spreading as little of it as possible on my sandwiches and, consequently, never savored that peanut butter’d up sticky mouth feeling.

Nowadays, no one can tell me to use less peanut butter, or any nut butter for that matter. Those are healthy fats and useful calories, especially for a vegetarian! The same goes for baking with nut butters. I purposely bought a two-pack of giant PB jars at Costco so I could bake with it. Otherwise, one PB-containing recipe can use up most of a jar!

Determined to bake something other than 5-minute-a-day bread last week, I broke out the giant peanut butter jar, some grape jam, and some oats for a batch of granola bars. It’s been quite a while since I made granola bars last and I’ve never found a recipe that I really, really love. This one comes close. The bars held together. They’re fully on the healthy side of the spectrum (in my opinion) and they’re beautiful to look at!

After a sample, I carried these over the hill to Lee’s work, where hungry engineers promptly devoured them. This was my second walk of the day with Doc, who was thrilled to go on a granola bar delivery. The weather in San Francisco was summer-like for a couple of days last week and I did not let it go to waste. Come to think of it, isn’t there something about summer weather, PB&J, and granola bars that fits together? It’s like a deconstructed childhood memory centered around summer camp lunchboxes and snacks eaten on the grass.

I couldn’t make these bars without including an unusual ingredient. I think they owe at least some of their deliciousness to the leftover sweet potato I mashed into the mix.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ, or oat bran, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 a baked sweet potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey (more if you like things sweeter)
  • 1 "flax egg" (2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons water)
  • About 1/3 cup grape jam
  • Additional 1/4 cup oats for topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a square or rectangular baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together flax seed meal and water, set aside.
  4. In a larger bowl, mash sweet potato.
  5. Add honey, peanut butter, and "flax egg" to sweet potato, mixing well.
  6. Add oats and wheat bran, stirring until mixture is evenly moist.
  7. Spread peanut butter-oat mixture into prepared pan, flattening it with a spatula or spoon.
  8. Spoon jam on top and and spread evenly over peanut butter-oats.
  9. Sprinkle reserved oats and coconut over the jam.
  10. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown at the edges.
  11. Remove pan from oven, lift bars out with parchment paper and cool on a wire rack.
  12. When bars are partially cool, place them on a cutting board (parchment and all) and cut into squares.
  13. You can put the bars back on the rack to cool, with or without the parchment. I kept mine on the parchment for easy transport and cleanup.
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Get Ready Granola Bars!

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        I’m in high gear preparation-mode these days. Lee and I are finally in our (probable) last U.S. port before we head east to the Bahamas! I say probable because we may decide to push south to Miami before crossing the gulf stream. For now, we’re anchored off of Riviera Beach, FL. I can’t get enough of the warm weather and sunshine but there is so much work to do!
        There are provisions to buy. I hear vegetables are scarce in the Bahamas so I have some serious stocking up to do. Various wedding related errands need running and our list of necessary boat supplies is long.
        I knew the next few days would be busy to say the least, so I made time for baking this afternoon. Not only did I get to check that activity off my list (for now), I also ended up with super snacks to fuel the craziness.
        I wanted to make granola bars that were on the crunchy side, naturally sweetened, and contained my favorite spice: cardamom. I think it was a crunchy granola bar recipe and my beloved Spicy Oatmeal Cookies from How It All Vegan that got me hooked on cardamom. It’s the perfect spice for not-so-sweet sweets. It catches you off guard on your first bite and keeps you coming back to figure out what’s going on in your mouth!
        These granola bars came together in my head this morning. I didn’t get a chance to make them until we got back from lugging 3 jugs each of anti-freeze and oil down the street. Ingredients flew into a pot, onto a baking sheet, and into the oven. The smell of coconut and cardamom made it difficult to resist pulling these out early and digging in.
        I think I succeeded with a certain amount of crunchiness and the perfect spice but my granola bars are probably not sweet enough for most people. Dried figs provide the only sweetness and I was happy with that. However, I would suggest adding some honey if you want more satisfaction in the sweet department. More dried fruit or a different kind (like dates) would also help. I think that’s what I’ll try next time.

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Granola Bars #1 (I anticipate making many more)

A handful of dried figs, chopped (about 3/4 cup when chopped)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
2 cups oats
2 scoops (1/4 cup) vanilla soy protein powder (or your protein powder of choice; dried milk would work too)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash of cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine chopped figs and water in a medium saucepan over med-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, partially covered, until the water had reduced to a syrup and the fruit hunks are soft and breaking down. Remove from heat.
Add coconut oil to the saucepan and stir until it melts.
In a separate bowl, mix oats, spices, protein powder, and flax.
Add the oat mixture to the saucepan along with the beaten egg.
Mix ingredients with a fork until they are completely blended.
Pour the mixture into a square baking pan or a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil. Press until flat and even. I made an irregular square-like shape on a baking sheet. Cut outlines of bars and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (longer for more crunch).
After baking, remove bars from pan and cool on a wire rack.

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