A safe granola bar is not easy, or cheap, to come by. When we went to Disney last year, I splurged on a whole box of goodies from peanutfreeplanet.com and some NoNuttin granola bars were in the mix. The kids loved them, but at $1.50 a bar, it was a bit much for a casual treat. After a lot of trial and error, I came up with this chewy granola bar recipe that is wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free. And for my little buddy Kierra, they can be corn-free as well! This year, we’ll pack these for Disney and save the money for some glass slippers instead.
This recipe uses brown rice syrup rather than corn syrup. I’m pretty sure when it comes down to it, there really aren’t any major health benefits to brown rice syrup over corn syrup. Sugar is sugar. I think it just makes me feel better using brown rice syrup, and it gets rid of one more allergen! As far as cost, around here it runs about $5 for a jar of Lundberg syrup and you can get two batches out of one jar (7 cents per bar for sweetener).
You can mix up the flavors, we live in cherry country here in Michigan, so dried cherries are not hard to come by, but other dried fruits would be great. For chocolate, I use the dark chocolate chunks from NoNuttin, they are seriously chocolaty, not really sweet at all and perfect with the sweet cherries. The coconut is something I’m sneaking in. Coconut allergies are apparently pretty uncommon, my kids just refuse it on the basis of texture. Elective refusal of a good-fat item is simply not an option around here, so I sneak the coconut in. I use regular Baker’s sweetened coconut, but I chop it down fine in the food processor.
0Chewy Dark Chocolate and Sweet Cherry Granola Bars
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (you can chop it down if your kids are squirmy about the texture)
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups quick oats
2 cups Rice Krispies (Erewhon makes a corn-free version)
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 jar Lundberg brown rice syrup (3/4 cup or so)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 T. avocado oil or other vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup safe chocolate chips
1.) Mix the coconut, oats, rice cereal, and cherries in a big bowl.
2.) In a small saucepan, heat the brown rice syrup and salt until just boiling and everything is dissolved, allow to boil for 30 seconds or so.
3.) Remove from the heat and add the oil and vanilla.
4.) Pour the syrup over the dried mixture and stir around until everything is well-coated.
5.) Dump into a parchment or foil-lined pan. I have a ‘quarter’ sheet pan that works great, a 9 x 13, or half of a jelly roll pan would work as well. Spread everything out well to cool, but don’t press anything down. Leave the top all lumpy bumpy.
6.) When the granola has cooled enough not to completely melt the choclolate, you can sprinkle the chips on top. Let everything cool a bit more before pressing the mixture down really well. The chips are the trickiest part. If you put them on early, they melt into a sticky mess. If you wait too long, the granola has cooled and the chips won’t stick into the bars. Either way, it’s chocolate. Your kid won’t care too much.
7.) Let the granola block cool and then chop into bars and wrap in plastic. I usually let slab sit overnight before cutting and wrapping so allow the bars to firm up. Makes about 36.