I am not a fan of “energy bars”. They’re often loaded with processed sugar and refined oils, while their nutrient content is boosted using questionable additives. Still, for those that maintain an active lifestyle, I get their appeal. They’re small and packed with protein and carbs, which makes them a dense source of energy to fuel your epic hikes.
By making your own bars, you can guarantee they’re made with good stuff, and you can tailor them to suit your tastes and dietary needs. These peanut butter and date granola bars are compact and yet they’re loaded with nutrients and energy, packing a lot of bang for the buck. By adding seeds in addition to the oats to the granola mixture you not only get a ton of fiber, you also get a healthy dose of protein and minerals. All this is held together with peanut butter and date syrup which are both loaded with antioxidants.
While you could add fruit or nuts to the bars, the large pieces compromise the structural integrity making the bars crumble easier unless you add more sugar to help bind things together. Dried fruit also tend to burn in the oven, which is why I prefer packing some fruits and nuts on the side rather than including them in the bars themselves.
Peanut Butter Date Bars
- 6.7 ounces (190 grams, about 2 cups) rolled oats
- 0.7 ounces (20 grams, about 2 tablespoons) chia seeds
- 0.28 ounces (8 grams, about 1 tablespoon) sesame seeds
- 0.56 ounces (16 grams, about 1/4 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup date syrup
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, chia seeds, sesame seeds and shredded coconut.
- Add the date syrup to a microwave-safe container and heat it in the microwave until bubbly. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
- Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine evenly. Be sure the mixture is well mixed and that everything sticks together when pressed, or your bars will fall apart.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola mixture onto the sheet. Cut another piece of parchment paper and use it to keep the granola from sticking to your hands as you press it down to form it. You can use another sheet pan to evenly press the granola down to ensure it is flat. Use the parchment paper and a flat edged surface such as a pastry knife to square the edges.
- Place the sheet in the oven and lower the heat to 300 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the granola is just starting to turn brown around the edges.
- The bars won't be crunchy yet, but they will firm up as they cool, which is why it's important to cut them while they are hot. If you want the bars to have a more uniform shape, trim the edges off and then cut the bars into your desired shapes and sizes. I cut mine into 10 standard-size granola bars. Let the bars cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container.
Yield: 10 bars
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.