Want to know a very weird secret about me?
I hated peanut butter until I was 18 years old. When I say hated, I mean passionately despised and would not eat anything that had so much as been touched by peanut butter. I grew up in a house full of PB lovers, so my hatred was nothing to do with how I was raised, I just straight hated it. Today I am a finger-full of PB straight from the jar kind of girl, and this switch is all thanks to a little friend we like to call Reese’s Pieces. Yep, candy changed my mind. Typical…
In fact, today I love peanut butter so much that I can’t have it in the house because I will just binge eat peanut butter until I get sick. Perhaps I am trying to make up for lost time?
Another fun fact?
I had never eaten a PB&J sandwich until I was almost 20 years old. Please hang up the phone and stop calling the mental institution, I know I’m crazy. Okay, one more fun fact:
I spend insane amounts of money on Clif bars at school. They are so damn delicious, but at $2.50 a pop, I definitely need to break the habit. With this in mind, I set off in search of a homemade granola bar that would be flavorful and nutritious.
“Throw Clif Bars Off A Cliff” Bars
❧ 1 1/2 Cups Puffed Rice or Puffed Wheat Cereal
❧ 1 Cup Uncooked Quick-Cooking Oats
❧ 3 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
❧ 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Dried Fruit (e.g., raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.)
❧ 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Nuts (preferably roasted or toasted)
❧ 1/3 Cup Honey
❧ 2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
❧ 1/3 Cup Nut Butter (e.g., peanut, almond, cashew, soynut)
❧ 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
❧ Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, or other spices as desired
Let’s Get Cooking!
1. Combine the cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, dried fruit, and nuts in a large bowl.
2. Bring the honey and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat (I have used agave nectar for part of the honey/syrup but never used entirely agave), stirring constantly; remove from heat.
3. Stir in nut butter and vanilla until blended. (I leave on heat but lower the temp while adding the nut butter and stir until all smooth)
4. Pour nut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until all dry ingredients are coated (mixture will be stiff). The nut butter mix can be hot at first so check temp and then feel free to let the kids mix and squeeze with their hands in order to incorporate the two mixtures together.
5. Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch square pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper. Use a larger 9 x 12 pan or 1/4 sheet pan if doubling). The kids love to partake in this step as well.
6. Cool in pan. Cut into whatever size bars are needed in your house.
Wrap bars in wax paper if being eaten soon (they will keep like this for a week or so) or wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. If storing in the refrigerator, take out and bring to room temp before eating.
The taste of these bars was spot on delicious, but I did have so issues getting them to stick together. I think my problem was that I didn’t chop the fruit and nuts finely enough. Make sure that you don’t put any large chunks in or they may crumble!