Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

I have what is popularly known as a Busy Schedule. Do you? Of course you do. We all do. And if we weren’t busy we wouldn’t need schedules.

As a way to remain at least somewhat faithful to my Busy Schedule, I rely heavily on individually packaged store-bought granola bars. Now, I’m a homemade girl when it comes to, well, as much as I can, and it has always disturbed me to buy so many granola bars. They rarely let me down, though. They taste good and carry me to the next meal, and, to be honest, I’m really not that concerned about their lack of completely pure healthfulness. A change of habit in this regard has been hard to perform.

There are probably 700 or so homemade granola bar recipes out there, so it was hard to know where to begin, especially when it’s hard to compete with the convenience of simply opening a little package. I do love these and I used to make them more often, but they require me to have granola on hand, which doesn’t always happen (even though I love this granola recipe and this one and this one…curse you Busy Schedule!). They also require powdered milk, which I don’t really use for anything else regularly.

And so one day, this Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Energy Bar recipe drifted to the top of my monstrosity of a recipe pile. It really looked easy and it really looked delicious and it really looked like I had all the ingredients on hand and therefore no excuse to put off trying it any longer.
This is an absolutely delicious and extremely simple homemade replacement for the industrially derived granola bar. There’s a simple list of ingredients and they all go together in a fashion compatible with the average Busy Schedule. They are energy dense, and therefore not really a weight-loss food, but unlike with a prepackaged bar, you can easily cut these into smaller portions.
The solid stuff of these bars is a combination of oats and crisp rice cereal along with some raisins (you could use other dried fruit) and almonds (you could use other nuts). This is all held together by a mixture of peanut butter (you could use another nut butter) and honey flavored with a bit of both vanilla and almond extracts. And by the way, almond extract, which I think has great power anyway, is fabulous in peanut butter treats. I added it to go with the almonds, but it’s a delicious flavor enhancement for the peanut butter as well.

These granola bar replacements are quite chewy but they’re less dense and crispier than many chewy store-bought bars. That, I suppose, is thanks to the crispy rice cereal. They’re best stored in the refrigerator to keep them from getting too soft, but if you take a little time to individually wrap them, they can be just as grab-and-go from the refrigerator as from the cupboard.

And I do suggest you should grab and go with these Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Energy Bars. They’re just so good! Delicious. Easy. Just so good!


Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Energy Bars
Adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine

2 cups rolled oats
½ cup raw almonds
1 cup crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
1/3 cup raisins
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the oats and almonds out on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Set aside to cool.

2. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray or spread it with oil or butter. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the cooled oats and almonds, crispy rice cereal, raisins and salt. Set aside.

4. Combine the peanut butter and honey in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat and stir until the peanut butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.

5. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture. Stir until well coated. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared 8-inch pan. Chill until firm. Cut into bars and wrap individually for convenience if desired. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 9 bars (or cut them smaller for lower calorie snacks).

Other recipes like this one: Almond Butter Granola Bars, Peanut Butter Granola


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