These homemade peanut butter granola bars are the perfect way to satisfy that midday craving for something sweet and crunchy. Just 6 ingredients needed!
Something happens to me at 3 o’clock every day during work. I get a ravenous craving for something simultaneously sweet, salty and crunchy. In my past life (before I cared about eating healthfully), I would’ve raided my cupboards for salty pretzels, soft-baked Chips Ahoy cookies, and oh, maybe even peanut M&M’s. Mmm… But by now, I’ve learned to satisfy the craving with a handful of roasted nuts and dried fruit, or garlicky hummus with carrots and Mary’s Gone Crackers.
This craving can probably be attributed to the natural energy dip near the end of the workday, when we’re already drained but our brains need to keep going. But even more than that, crunchy food cravings are apparently indicators of stress – something I accumulate lots of by 3pm.
Ever since moving back in with Rene, I’ve developed a pretty serious 3pm dependency on Nature Valley’s crunchy peanut butter granola bars (it’s his snack of choice and despite my perpetual pleading, he has no plans to resolve his sugar addiction).
Now I don’t mean to poo-poo Nature Valley – their bars are by no means the worst on the market. But they do contain soy lecithin – a chemical emulsifier many people are allergic to – and lots of white sugar, which is what makes them so cloyingly sweet and addictive. So, I challenged myself to recreate my new favorite treat with less sugar and cleaner ingredients.
Thanks to existing recipes from Minimalist Baker and Half-Baked Harvest, and two of my own recipe tests, I landed on this recipe. It features rolled oats (a great source of protein and fiber), all-natural peanut butter, virgin coconut oil, honey as the only sweetener, and my favorite French sea salt on top. These peanut butter granola bars stay fresh for at least 7 days and make an excellent snack on-the-go (and not just at 3pm, obviously). It’s safe to say that these days I’m never without one in my purse.Print
Here is a healthier version of one of my favorite store-bought snacks, Nature Valley’s crunchy peanut butter granola bars. All you need are 6 ingredients you probably already have on-hand. If you have leftover tahini, you may use that instead of the peanut butter. (This recipe has been updated since its original September 2017 version).
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter OR tahini
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds) OR chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Coarse sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8×8” baking dish (See Note) with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang, and lightly grease the paper with coconut oil. Set aside.
- Place the oats in a large bowl.
- In a small pot, combine the honey, peanut butter, oil, flaxseed meal, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Briefly heat over a low flame, stirring frequently, just until the mixture is combined and pourable, 30-60 seconds.
- Pour the honey mixture into the bowl with the oats and stir until the oats are evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Using a spatula and/or your hands, firmly press the mixture into the dish to flatten it into a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until just barely golden.
- Cool completely. Once no longer warm to the touch, lift the bars out of the baking dish using the parchment paper overhang. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 bars or 16 small squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
This recipe was developed using a ceramic baking dish. If you plan to use a metal dish, the bars may take less than 20 minutes since metal heats up faster than ceramic. If the bars are over-baked, they may crumble upon slicing.
- Serving Size: 2 bars
- Calories: 366
- Fiber: 5.4 g
- Protein: 8.8 g