Granola bars that aren’t really all that healthy are one of my favourite things. In highschool I ate so many chocolate-covered granola bars that I started having a Pavlovian-type response to the end-of-day bell; it rang, I craved a chocolate granola bar. There is something so wonderfully sneaky about those chocolate-covered granola bars: because you know there are oats in there, you can completely avoid the guilt that comes with chowing down on a regular old chocolate bar.
This homemade version is kind of like that – it has a lot of healthy stuff involved, but also a fair share of unhealthy ingredients. Good thing all the healthy things remove any potential guilt, not to mention the fact that homemade is BOUND to be healthier because you aren’t using chemicals (right?).
Pop quiz: What is gooey and chewy and deliciously salty-sweet and still totally healthy?
I know, some of you were thinking fresh caramel corn, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just because it is popcorn based and popcorn is low-fat, caramel corn is not healthy.
But these granola bars are DEFINITELY worth making, totally healthy or not! They are not the kind of granola bar you want to take hiking, because their chewy gooey-ness makes them slightly fall-apart-y. Clearly this is a post full of my best vocabulary. It’s hard to find words to properly describe the sweet, salty, chewy, oat-y goodness of these bars – I suppose that’s why I never made it as a food critic.
I’ve made these with any number of ingredient combinations depending what’s around, and they always turn out delicious, so feel free to throw in your favourite dried fruit, nuts and seeds to up the health factor even more, but don’t skip that corn syrup even if it is the devil in liquid sugar disguise. It is yuummmmmmmy, and makes everything stick together, and since we all know cooked honey is more than kinda awful, don’t even think about substituting it – if you’re using honey, make a different recipe ;)
If you need them gluten free, just make sure you have gluten-free oats and don’t throw in the wheat germ. Obv :)
Chewy Gooey Peanut Butter Granola Bars
1 cup brown sugar, packed
⅔ cup peanut butter
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oats
⅓ cup wheat germ or ground flax seed
Options (Use all, some or none):
2 tbsp sesame seeds or sunflower seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
½ cup coconut
½ cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir in oats and wheat germ. Fold in any other options you have chosen. Press evenly into lightly greased 9×13” pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until light brown, but still gooey-chewy looking. Cool completely before cutting into bars or squares.