annie’s granola bars with a kick

So today I went and had a body composition analysis performed at my gym. Hydrate well the day before, neither eat nor drink several hours beforehand, take off all your jewelry (yes Annie, including your nose stud), and stand barefoot on this funky platform and hold these bizarre metal handles and poof. Your percent lean body mass for each limb and your trunk. Your ratio of extracellular water to total body water. Your percentage of body fat. Oh my.

Upon receiving my results I, a woman of action, immediately signed up for my favorite trainer’s “boot camp.” (Thankfully, she hates that term, too.) Which happened to start 45 minutes later. But there I was, in sweatpants and without any food or water on board. Could I make it?

My gym is 12 minutes from home. I could run home and change into workout clothes quickly, but what about fuel? What I could eat that would sustain me without making me puke halfway through the workout? Fortunately I had a fridge full of these bad boys. I hit home, changed, grabbed one of these and popped a Nuun tablet in a bottle of water. I munched en route and got there just in time to run up and down stairs sideways, do lots of side plank, and throw medicine balls at my husband’s boss’s daughter’s chest.

That last one was a bit unexpected.

Anyway. The bars.

My mom and step-dad want the recipe. My coworkers sniff with envy when I break one out. Jesse said they’re the “treat” of his lunchbox! That made me feel very good about myself.

These granola bars were born out of a desire to replace the Zone bars we’d been buying with something cheaper and a little less artificial. I’ve tried a bunch of no-bake recipes popular now on the Internet but they all seemed to crumble, or leave me wanting more protein. I’ve made granola bars in the past, but they were complex and a little too righteous. I needed something hearty, easy to throw together while multitasking, and good enough that I actually look forward to eating. I use high-quality but accessible ingredients here–the packages of soy flour and coconut flour last for many batches, and I can even find these at my Albertson’s. Nuts and chocolate you can buy in bulk. I get giant containers of Craisins and peanut butter from Costco, and that shit never goes bad.

holy peanut butter batman

Oh my god, that’s a lot of peanut butter. Shown with a normal jar for scale.

Anyway, this recipe is more of a guideline (have I ever really written a *recipe* recipe, though?)–each batch I’ve made has been slightly different than the last, and sometimes that’s just because I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing. Oops. The last batch I made, for instance, had almost a cup of coconut flour rather than the half cup I’m calling for here, and I had to add another egg to account for the extra dry volume.

So mess around. Here’s the principle you want to keep in mind: mix your dry ingredients with enough sticky stuff to hold it all together. Simple enough! If you added so many chunks of things or flours that it’s not holding together with the wet ingredients listed here, add an overripe banana or another egg or something. Don’t worry.

Annie’s Granola Bars with a Kick

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill FTW)
  • 1/2 cup soy flour (that shit is 35% protein!)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (high in fiber)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of any kind–hazelnuts are my favorite so far
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or other sweet dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chunky natural peanut butter (the runny stuff made only of peanuts and salt)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 to 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne (I have a problem, I know)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Optional add-ins:

  • crystallized ginger
  • chocolate-covered espresso beans
  • more dried fruit
  • more nuts
  • Rice Krispies or other cereal (as this adds significantly to the dry volume, either plan to decrease the volume of flours you use, or add an extra egg)
  • al dente quinoa

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together your dry ingredients in a large bowl–everything from the oats to the chocolate and any add-ins you fancy.

dry

In a medium bowl, mix your wet ingredients and your spices with a silicone spatula.

wet

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry and stir and mix and smoosh everything together like crazy. The dough should juuuust stick together if you press the spatula into it pretty hard.

gimme some dough

Line a 9×9 glass baking dish with a sheet of parchment paper. Dump in your dough and work it into the corners with your spatula. Smoosh the dough into a uniform layer, pressing hard to create the densest brick possible.

they're starting to smell goooood

Pop the bars into the oven for 25-30 minutes. The edges will tell you when you’re done–the top does become a little toasty golden, but the edges are your limiting factor as they tend to burn. Allow to cool and then use a big chef’s knife cut the mass into whatever size bars you desire. We usually end up getting about 10 bars out of each batch. Well, 9, because we immediately split one. For quality control.

wait til they cool

These keep me going during a long shift, or on a long hike. They help prevent homicidal ideation while running errands. And, as my step-dad observed, the cayenne leaves just enough of a burn on your lips to remind you that you had something special.

Enjoy! And tell me what you do to make them your own.

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