Peanut Butter Fruit and Granola Bars

So Mike and I have gathered up all of the materials necessary for pod-casting. Or is that Pod Casting? Podcasting?  Meh.  Anyway, things are set and we’re ready to begin.  We actually had a rather good test podcast, which is to say that I was highly amused with his funniness and my..uh, being there….but our mics weren’t aligned properly and it sounded like, “WASH-A-WASH-A-WASH-A-WASH-A-WAAAAAAAAAASH”. Last night we were going to try again, but I was too tired.  It was a long day at work.  It was a REALLY long day at work. Mind you, most days are a long day at work.  There’s just something about an 11 hour day that drains your sparkle and shine.  When you get home, there’s no excitement and enthusiasm.  There’s just, “Goddammit…maybe I’ll order a pizza….or eat a granola bar…..”

On a lighter note, BIG NEWS!!  I got a new job.  This is officially my last day at my current place of work. New job!  New work-people-that-aren’t-really-friends-but-they’re-all-you-have!   New environment, with new challenges and new learning opportunities!  No peanuts!  Peanut galleries, maybe, but my new workplace is a peanut and tree-nut free zone.  I don’t mind this, really, because although I’m a brown-bagger I’ve never been much of a PB&J kind of girl….unless that stands for peanut brittle and beef jerky, and then maybe…..

I do have one work day weakness though.  Okay, more than one, but let’s talk about this one first. Homemade peanut butter fruit and granola bars.  Ooooh yeaaaaaah.  That’s what I’m talking about.  

When Mike and I were first dating, I noticed an alarming trend in his eating habits.  Every day started out with a muffin from Starbucks, lunch was at the stroke of 12, and he wouldn’t eat again until after 8 pm. On realizing this, I panicked about the health and well-being of my new beau.  Starbucks muffins aren’t nutritious!!  No food for 8-9 hours?  Perish the thought!! The next day I arrived at his house with two trays of freshly made peanut butter fruit and granola bars. They were gone by the end of that week.

Now before I give you the recipe for these bad boys, I need to say a few more things:

1.  These are not firm, crunchy, snap when you bite into them granola bars.  They are soft, yielding, and crumble-at-the-edges-a-bit bars, particularly if you cut them too soon.  If you want them to hold together better and be firm, strong, holier-than-thou granola bars, you might consider adding a lightly beaten egg to the mixture before it gets cooked.

2.  This recipe is not shy.  It makes three (yes, 3!) 8×8 pans of granola bars, or about 24 large bars which keep very well in the fridge.  However, lest you think that’s too many, bear in mind that Mike and I ate our last batch in slightly less than two weeks….yeah.

3.  My ex-roommate (who hated me anyway, but that’s no reason to take it out on innocent granola bars) used to refer to these as sh*t bricks….you’ll understand why when you see the ingredients.  But hey! Couldn’t we all use a bit more fiber in our diets?  Shatner totally agrees with me…..even if his name is SHATner…..  

4.  So you don’t like some of the fruits or nuts that I use?  That’s okay. Sometimes NEITHER DO I!!  The key is, if you’re going to sub out a dried fruit or nut, use a like for like.  That is to say, sticky chopped prunes can be substituted for sticky chopped dates or sticky chopped apricots, and so on.  Dried up shrivelled cranberries can be substituted for dried up shrivelled raisins and…you get the point.

Alright then, my last granola bar is in the fridge, waiting to be eaten.  Granola bars, my special friends, this may be the last time that we see each other for a while.  I know, this is hard.  It’s hard for me too.  We’ve had a good run though.  Think of all the good times that we’ve had!  The private moments that we’ve shared – just us against the world.  Our time together may have come to an end, but….well, I’ll never forget you.  You’ll always have a very special place in my heart.  Anyway, go on now.  No need for these sniffles, let’s just chin up and go forward, right?  You have a bright future out there – I know that you’ll meet many great new people, and I wish you nothing but the best.  And anyway, jobs will come and jobs will go…I know we’ll meet again someday.

  • 2 1/2 cups bran cereal *
  • 2 cups large rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dry roasted almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups dry roasted cashews
  • 2 cups sunflower seeds (shucked)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried raisins
  • 2 cups dried apricot
  • 1 1/2 cups prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups dried dates
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup pure honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter

* I’m partial to Bran Buds, but any stick or pellet like bran cereal will work.

Mix up the dries in the largest bowl that you own. It will still be too small for you to do this without making a mess.

Cut the stickies into small pieces so everything is about the size of a raisin.

Cut up more stickies. There’s a lot of fruit chopping going on for this one. When you’re ready, mix the dries with the stickies.

Melt some peanut butter and honey with a bit of sesame oil for flavor.

Let that cool until your skin won’t fall off when you touch it, then drizzle and mix that up with the dries and stickies.

Pat this into three 8×8 pans that are lightly greased or sprayed with non-stick spray. At this point, everything is sticky. I know. It’s okay. If you rinse your hands in water and pat the mixture down when your paws are still damp it will help.

Seriously, tell me that they don’t look good already.

Alright, well go on now and bake them for half an hour at 350F degrees, or until the edges are just slightly browned and the top is golden.

Aaaaaand once more.  This time, with feeling.

Let them cool before you cut into them, or they’ll still be very loose and crumbly.  Mind you, they’re fairly crumbly anyway, but this just helps.  Oh, so does a really sharp knife.  And maybe you want to wipe it down with cold water between cuts.  Just an idea, really….

And come just a little bit closer…..

C’mon, now don’t be shy.

Oh, much better.  Just a little bit more……

Purrrrrrrrrrr-fect.  We likes.  We likes muchly.

  • Mike

    Oh God, I love these. When I am about to slip into a hypoglycemic tantrum, one of these always brings me back from the edge.

    And then I usually have at least one more.

  • Alison

    I need to hear more about this ex-roommate who hated me. I didn’t quite know events had progressed this far! AND – the granola bars look delicious! I can’t wait to try them! And ENJOY you last day in the guulag!


  • Kristie

    Luna bars-out, awesome peanut bars-in. I just bought 10 Luna bars at WhoFo because they were on sale, and now I find this recipe. It’s bad news. Still, I bet I could halve the recipe and feed them to Chris and myself on our run this weekend. Mmmmmmmm.

    What kind of new job? Why no peanuts? Are you working for a socialist government?

  • noble pig

    I’ve never made my own but always wanted too. These look great! And healthy.

  • Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    My teenaged daughter absolutely lives on peanut butter and granola bars. She would love these! And they’re healthy and delicious too!

  • Ivy

    They sound delicious. I have most of the ingredients but no sesame oil, which will be difficult to find. Can I substitute it with something else?

  • Tina

    Alison – thank you! The last day was a bit sad, actually! I’m not good at leaving people.

    Kristie – What are Luna bars? I need to know…..The new job is still office/ancillary but the sector is manufacturing and I’ll be working in a nut free food production facility. I worked at one of the sister plants a few years ago and loved it. I do HR so my job is sometimes frustrating, often rewarding, but does it really matter when every day you go in to work and it smells like cookies??

    Noble pig – granola bars are SO EASY!! Not cheap, but definitely easy. The health factor is really why I like to make them myself, because I can guarantee what’s in them and they’re not loaded up with sugars and preservatives….and I can up the fibre conent by 500%, hehehe.

    Susan – you lucked out!! When I was a teenager I lived on Cheetos and mango. Sometimes together. My poor parents…..At least you know she’s getting roughage and protein!

    Ivy – There’s just 1 wee tbsp of sesame oil in here for the massive amounts of granola that are being made. It’s not really there for the oil factor as much as for the intense flavor. You could substitute 1/4 cup of sesame seeds in with the dries if you want to keep that nutty flavor. You could also mix 2-3 tbsp tahini in with the peanut butter as it melts. OR you can leave it out all together! I often switch things up in this recipe, like substituting molasses for some of the honey, changing the fruits and nuts according to what I have, etc.

  • Nanco

    I seem to remember a certain someone subsisting on imitation crab, pepperoni sticks, cheese slices and licorice, but that might have been in their early twenties..? These are perfect for taking in the car on the way to work. I just have to sanitize my hands before I enter the school since they all have nut bans! Darn allergies.

  • Mike

    Stupid freak kids and their hyperactive immune systems. React to diseases, why don’t you, and leave perfectly good nuts alone!

  • Tina

    Nanco – you forgot beef sour patch kids and garlicky pickles. It’s a wonder that I never had scurvy.

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