As a kid I always loved the hustle and bustle of “going back to school.” I really loved the activity of picking out my new lunch box, getting new clothes and the school supplies. My absolute favorite? There’s nothing like opening a fresh notebook.
My mom’s lunch box game was always stellar the first week of school. Looking back, those were, by far, my best school lunches. Granola bars weren’t something she usually made (I was the weird kid with Arroz Con Pollo in my lunchbox), but I love the idea of making my future kids some healthy and awesome snacks.
I’ve attempted granola bars numerous times and have usually ended up with granola bar-failure. They tend to fall apart and most recipes that claim they do stick together call for corn syrup, which is something I don’t think belongs in my healthy snack, let alone a kid’s healthy snack.
A few tricks to having granola bars stick together? Press them firmly into the pan. And I’m talking really use your strength! Secondly, a trip to the refrigerator, post-baking, also assists them in binding. I love this particular combination of dried fruit, nuts and carob chips, but if you don’t have them on hand, feel free to swap them out! Play.
Flax Pistachio and Apricot Granola Bars
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup flax seeds
- 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup sweetened carob chips
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of cardamom
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup good-flavored honey
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a square 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch baking dish with parchment paper, being sure there's slack on opposite sides. (This will help with removing the granola bars.) Lightly grease the pan with olive oil and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flax seed, dried apricots, pistachios, carob chips, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small saucepan, add the olive oil, honey, maple syrup and brown sugar. Heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Pour the olive oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly coated.
- Spread the granola bar mixture into the pan, pressing firming into the corners and edges. (I've always been victim of granola bars falling apart so I suggest pressing firmer than you would normally think to do. I'm talking press it down!)
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the top is lightly golden brown and the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely, about 1 hour before cutting. Note: Since I was a bit paranoid about them falling apart, I opted to put them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes prior to cutting. Use a sharp knife (I used a serrated knife), and slice granola bars into nine.
Yield: 9 granola bars
Adrianna Adarme is a food blogger and author living in Los Angeles, California. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, everyday recipes from her kitchen. She recently authored her first cookbook, PANCAKES: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack. She’s a lover of breakfast, pie (and sometimes even pie for breakfast), corgis and cute things. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.