Soft, Chewy, & Packed with Protein
If there is one thing that I’m okay with being terrible at, it’s making granola bars. Bold statement considering this is a granola bar recipe post, but believe me when I tell you – I can never get it to just stick together. And if you’ve been here for a while, you probably know my love for granola and granola shaped into bars, so it’s really quite the predicament.
I’m learning that the key to a perfect, soft, and chewy granola bar is having a whole ‘lot of “glue” to hold it all together. Glue being anything sticky and hardens while baking, aka sugar. As quickly as I crossed corn syrup and homemade caramel off of my list, I realized that my options were limited to nut butters, maple syrup, and honey. In my past experiences with granola bar recipes, nut butters, maple syrup, and honey do add a delicious and necessary sweetness; however, they don’t hold everything together like refined sugars and syrups in normal granola recipes.
Just to recap, here’s a look at my thought process: “Your granola bars always fall apart, you need a stickier substance, stop wasting a bottle of honey it never works, think think think!” And then came the light bulb moment and I actually felt like something clicked. A few months ago, I made my favorite banana date bread with a homemade ‘caramel’ glaze. The glaze itself was made just from dates and water, and much to my surprise, was very sticky and syrup like after heating. I also used this date syrup in my latest, and personal favorite, soft baked autumn inspired granola recipe. So, here I was feeling conquered by each and every granola bar recipe when I had the perfect solution right in my kitchen! I don’t know if it was more of an ‘ah-ha‘ moment or ‘omg r u kidding me‘ moment.
I can proudly say that this is my first ever original and successful granola bar recipe! The odds were against me and I wasn’t too sure about it, but I think I might actually give myself a pat on the back for this one. They are everything you want in a granola bar; soft, chewy, crunchy, sweet and filling! I used three different kinds of nuts in this recipe, fibrous whole grains and seeds, as well as ingredients that will help you feel full and satisfied. Chad suggested that taste similar to the center of a sweet kolache roll (nut roll), and I can’t say that I disagree! The macadamia nuts add the right amount of crunch and natural sweetness without being too overpowering, the coconut adds a subtle sweetness, and that peanut butter drizzle is just to die for.
And let’s be real – they actually stick together
Fool-Proof Macadamia Nut Granola Bars
What You Will Need
- 13-15 pitted dates
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 cups oats
- 1 and 1/2 cups macadamia nuts
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes
- peanut butter, or nut butter of your choice
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and generously grease a 9×9 baking dish or deep baking sheet. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, macadamia nuts, quinoa, and coconut flakes. Set aside and begin date caramel.
For the caramel, blend 13-15 pitted dates with 1/2 cup of water in a food processor. Occasionally scrape the sides to ensure the dates are completely blended and create a smooth syrup like texture without clumps. Once evenly blended, heat the date syrup and coconut oil on the stove or in a microwavable safe bowl until the mixture is smooth. Carefully pour the warm caramel onto the dry ingredients and gently fold together.
Once the granola is evenly coated, spread the mixture onto a greased baking dish and tightly pack it down and together. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the center is hard. Let it cool completely before cutting so the granola has a chance to harden or ‘set.’ Optional: drizzle smooth peanut butter or almond butter over the granola bars. Not optional: enjoy!
Thank you Mauna Loa for sending me the best, authentic macadamia nuts and inviting me to be apart of the Mauna Loa recipe contest! All thoughts and opinions are completely my own and I love this brand as much as I love their products. A very special thank you to the Healthiest Me community for supporting me and the brands that I stand behind.