It’s hard to imagine going on a Boundary Waters canoe trip and not eating a single granola bar. A lightweight, high calorie Boundary Waters snack staple, granola bars are the quintessential energy pick-me-up at the end of a portage or for a pause in paddling across a large lake. While there are hundreds of pre-packaged granola bars to choose from these days, nothing beats a homemade granola bar when you’re on trail. Some people prefer homemade granola bars in the form of Hudson Bay bread or flapjacks (kind of a glorified oatmeal cookie bar), but at Tuscarora, we’re partial to this chewy granola bar recipe which produces a thin, toothsome bar quite similar to the pre-packaged granola bars you can buy from a well-known oat company but better.
First, you need to assemble and measure all your ingredients. This is by far the most time consuming part of this entire recipe.
Foodies – don’t knock the decidedly un-gourmet “glue” used to bind these granola bars together. (You can redeem yourself slightly by using local honey instead of corn syrup, but I haven’t hit upon a dignified substitute for the bag of marshmallows.)
Astute observers will note that the vanilla extract bottle hangs out in the foreground during the entire video. Yup, totally forgot to stir the 2 tablespoons of vanilla into the marshmallow mixture after it came out of the microwave. Don’t worry, the bars still came out perfectly.
The chocolate chips have a tendency to fall off the top of the bars when you cut them, but if you stir them into the batter before baking, they will melt completely and turn the whole batch of bars chocolate-colored. Pick your poison. (Note: just not including chocolate chips in the recipe is not really considered a viable option in this household.)
Like most granola bars, this recipe is highly adaptable and very allergen friendly.
- Gluten-free: use gluten-free oats and rice cereal.
- Dairy-free: use coconut oil and dark chocolate chips (or forego the chocolate chips all together -gasp!)
- Peanut-free: substitute your favorite tree nut for the peanuts and use almond butter instead of peanut butter
You can also get creative with your mixture of dried fruit, nuts, and chips to adapt the recipe to your tastes. I usually use a combination of raisins and craisins for the dried fruit, but this time I found some fruit bits (apple, raisins, apricots) in the cupboard, so used those. Other possible flavor combos include craisin/white chocolate, cherry/blueberry/dark chocolate, etc. etc.
These definitely won’t be a super lightweight item in your food pack (a full batch weighs about 1.5 lbs), but you will have cut down on the amount of trash you have to pack out. It’s nice to have a good tasting ready-to-eat snack in your pack that isn’t full of preservatives. Let us know if you give these a try.
- 4 cups quick oats
- 1 cup crispy rice cereal i.e. Rice Krispies
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup sunflower kernels
- 3/4cup peanuts
- 1 1/2cups dried fruiti.e. raisins, craisins, fruit bits
- 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 (10.5 oz) package marshmallows
- 2/3 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup butter OR coconut oil
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup OR honey
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 17×11″ jelly roll pan.
In a large bowl, combine oats, rice cereal, coconut, sunflower kernels, peanuts, dried fruit, wheat germ, and sesame seeds. Set aside.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine marshmallows, peanut butter, butter/coconut oil, and corn syrup/honey. Microwave on high in 1 minute increments – stirring in between – until all ingredients are melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla extract.
Pour marshmallow mixture over dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until bars are set and the edges are golden bar. Let cool completely. Cut in 4″ x 1.5″ bars.