Are you ready for some photos?
If you didn’t read that in an American football announcer’s voice, then you must read that question again.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME PHOTOS?
Today’s post is overloaded with photos, because last week we went on vacation to Anna Maria Island, Florida. Tourist on vacation = lots of photos! For seven whole days we unplugged from the online world (at least for the majority of the time), played tic-tac-toe in the sand, surfed in the waves, caught fresh fish for dinner (mackerel), ate homemade granola bars while twiddling our toes in the sand, and watched night after night of Netflix movies. It was exactly as a vacation should be: relaxing, delicious, simple, unplugged, and refreshing.
And now, more photos! Because today we’re going to make one of the treats that we enjoyed on our vacation: Homemade No-Bake Trail Mix Granola Bars.
I’ve been working on a simple homemade granola bar recipe, that doesn’t require baking, for a few months now. After lots of testing, and some really nasty failures, today’s recipe was successfully created and has become one of our family’s favorite homemade treats.
So what makes Homemade No-Bake Trail Mix Granola Bars so different than other granola bar recipes on the blog and Pinterest?
Friend, this recipe simplifies the entire granola-bar-making process with a no-bake freezer preparation method. Yes, there’s a bit of chopping and heating involved, but that’s about as tricky as this recipe gets.
I promise the chopping and heating steps are totally worth the effort of making these bars, because these bars are everything a granola bar should be: salty, crunchy, and filling. They don’t disappoint! And, to top off their amazingness, these bars are stored in the freezer, which means they keep forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but you get the point: these bars last quite a long time. One batch of granola bars may be enjoyed multiple times for breakfast, a quick snack, or a late night treat.
Before we get started making a batch of homemade granola bars, let’s talk about the “trail mix” part of the recipe.
Typically, trail mix is a blend of salty, crunchy, and chewy foods (think: dried fruits and salty nuts). These bars remind me of a bag of trail mix in bar form: a blend of crunchy nuts and seeds (including the nut butter that holds these bars together) and dried fruit (dates). Just like any good trail mix base, there’s definitely room for experimentation in this recipe. Sub out the pumpkin seeds for sunflower seeds, try adding a handful of chocolate chips (you’ll want to make sure the mixture is cool before adding the chocolate chips), or use almond butter instead of the peanut butter.
And now for the granola bar recipe you’ve been waiting so patiently to make, and a video to help guide you through the process.
Homemade No-Bake Trail Mix Granola Bars
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 110 g
- 1 cup puffed brown rice cereal I prefer Arrowhead Mills brand which you can find at most health food stores for about $3/bag., 20 g
- 1/2 cup unsalted chopped almonds 80 g
- 1/2 cup roasted and unsalted pumpkin seeds 80 g
- pinch salt
- 1 cup medjool dates packed, (9-10 dates 195 g) , pitted
- 1/3 cup honey 60 ml
- 1/3 cup peanut butter 100 g
- 1 TB pure vanilla extract homemade
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: rolled oats, puffed brown rice, chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds, and a pinch of salt.
- Place the pitted dates in a food processor bowl, or you can do this step with a knife but it will require more time. Slowly pulse the dates, pausing between pulses, until the dates are chopped into pieces. Ideally the dates shouldn't form a ball, but if this happens you can separate the dates into smaller pieces with your hands. Add the dates to the dry ingredients, and then combine the ingredients with your hands (it helps to wet your hands first!). The mixture should feel sticky once the dates are incorporated in the dry mixture.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the honey and peanut butter. Stir the honey and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. You may need to use a whisk to combine the ingredients. Turn off the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract (yes, 1 tablespoon).
- Pour the sticky honey and peanut butter over the dry ingredients. Stir to combine the ingredients, making sure the honey and peanut butter covers all the dry ingredients.
- Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. Press the granola down into the pan. I like to use the back of a measuring cup (you'll want to wet the back of the measuring cup first) to level the top of the granola and make sure it's packed tight in the baking dish.
- Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes. Remove the granola bars from the freezer and cut into even bars. Place the bars in a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze the granola bars until you're ready to enjoy. I like to pull a granola bar from the freezer, and let it warm up at room temperature for about 1 minute before enjoying.
I recommend using an “all natural” peanut butter. This means the peanut butter should only contain 1-3 ingredients: peanuts, and possibly salt and oil. If your peanut butter contains salt, you’ll probably want to skip the pinch of salt.
For a nut-free granola bar, I think you could sub out the almonds for more pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. Sunflower seed butter, or maybe even tahini, might work as a sub for the peanut butter.
The dates should be soft. If your dates aren’t soft, you can soak them in warm water for 15 minutes. This really shouldn’t be an issue unless your dates are old.
These are delicious and I can vouch for the freezer friendly part. It is such a lovely, healthy make in advance snack option.
What did I do wrong though? The first time I made them too thin and as a result they were very crumbly. The second time I made them too thick and as a result my bars were too big for a single serving, but perfect for sharing. I will definitely make them again and am hoping that it will be third time lucky 🙂
I just made these and popped them in the freezer! Can’t wait to try them out :-).
My son has a severe allergy to all nuts, do you think it would work to sub out the almonds for another kind of seed besides the pumpkin (variety is nice)? I was thinking of using sunflower seed butter in place of the peanut butter, since that is off limits for us. It is so hard finding a granola bar he can eat, and I would much rather make my own :). These look delicious, I’d just love to modify it so my son could eat them!!!
Hey Amber, I think you could definitely use pumpkin seeds in place of the almonds. You could even toast the pumpkin seeds to add extra flavor. And sunflower seed butter should work beautifully. I need to work on a nut-free granola bar, soon. My kids attend a nut-free school, so I know how hard it is to find something like this without the nuts.
I’d like to try this recipe! You make it look very easy. I like it!
Thank you, One! Enjoy!!
do you have a recipe for granola bars that do not have to be refrigerated. On the weekends I like to take granola bars on my backpack (no cooler) in case the kids get hungry at any time during the day.
Hey Irma, This recipe doesn’t need to be refrigerated (it relies on baking to hold the bars together): https://livesimply.me/2015/05/14/homemade-protein-granola-bars/ It can be a bit crumbly, but once the bars are cool they hold together.
Can I use cranberries in place of dates??
Hey Susan, I’m not sure if they will work. The dates are really sticky, so they help the granola bars stick together and add sweetness to the bars. You could probably use 1/2 dates and 1/2 cranberries.
Fantastic and so yummy. My kids loved making them with me.
Love it, Jayme! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the bars.
these look delicious & healthy and i like the no bake method. do you know offhand how many calories are in the bars?
i just found a website where you can plug in the ingredients and find out the nutritional value. 🙂 it looks like for 8 bars they are roughly 350 calories each.
That’s awesome, Linda, glad you found that site. Thanks for the calorie info!
These look amazing. I can’t wait to make them! I love the fact that they don’t require baking.
Thank you, Deborah!
These are the best homemade granola bars I’ve had! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Awesome, Jess! I’m so glad you’re enjoying them!
Do you have any real food restaurant recommendations in Anna maria? We are going in a few weeks. We struggled to find good restaurants when we were there last. Thanks!
It’s a big struggle, like you mentioned, to find real food resturants on Anna Maria. It’s kind of surprising since it has such a small town feel. We love Poppo’s. There are two locations near Anna Maria: one on the main street where you’ll find all the shops (near the Donut Experiment place) and the other one is near Fresh Market in Bradenton. They serve delicious and fresh Mexican-style food, like Chipotle. Another place we visited last year was the Beach House on Holmes Beach. Last year they were introducing a new farm to table concept to the restaurant. I’m not sure if this continued or not. We’ve enjoyed the Mermaid restaurant before, too. They seem to cook “from scratch” and offer local seafood choices. The Mermaid is pricey and more “elegant” for the beach, so if you’re traveling with kids go for lunch. Ginny and Jane’s serves freshly-made baked goods and real smoothies (I always ask about the ingredients before ordering one). I’m sure the baked goods are made with loads of white sugar and white flour, but they are made in house. If you get off the island, there is a Fresh Market about 15 minutes in Bradenton. They sell Vital Farm Eggs and lots of real food options. If you have a kitchen where you’ll be staying, they are a great place to grab a few items. Usually when we go out, I stick with a fish (grouper or snapper are local and always on the menu these days) or veggie option, and usually ask for the sauce on the side. That seems to be the safest route at most of the restaurants on Anna Maria.
If you make it down to Sarasota during your trip, Indigenous Restaurant is amazing! It’s a farm to table place with great food set in a cute bungalow home.
PS: The water is gorgeous right now! Have an awesome trip!!
Thank you so much! You continue to be an invaluable resource for clean living for my family!
Do you have a suggestion for a truly gluten free substitute for the puffed brown rice cereal?
Hey Loraine K. You may be able to use extra rolled oats instead. You’d want to use gluten-free certified rolled oats, like Bob’s Red Mill. There may be a company that sells gluten-free certified puffed brown rice. PS: I just searched around online and found that Erewhon brand sells a gluten-free brown rice crispy. The texture looks a bit different than the Arrowhead Mills brand, but may still work: http://amzn.to/28NcGGv (I’m sure they’re much cheaper at a health food store). Although they appear to add sugar to their product: brown rice syrup.
I actually did read the question like a football announcer. And thanks, now I have that song in my head. ; ) I’m one of those weird folks who likes to look at people’s vacation photos. I can’t explain it I just do. Hope you’re feeling refreshed after some time away. Granola bars were put on my meal plan for the end of the week. Thanks
Lol, JoAnn, that’s awesome! As soon as I wrote that sentence my mind went to football, and I’m not even a big football fan…that’s good marketing ;). I love looking at vacation photos, too. We had such a refreshing time, and it was so nice to just hang-out without any agenda. Enjoy the bars!!
These sound really good –and so simple! Do you know how long they could be stored at room temperature? Thanks for another great recipe!
Hey Karin, We took the bars to the beach several times and they sat in the cooler with a small block of ice for 4 hours, and they didn’t fall apart. My hubby traveled with a bar just before vacation and he said after about 4 hours it started to fall apart a bit, but he was still able to eat the bar. Based on those experiences, I’d say the bars could probably go for about 2-3 hours at room temperature. Maybe try testing one bar on the counter. Hope that helps! Enjoy!!
I made these instantly using maple syrup and almond butter. They don’t hold together as well, but are so yummy, I bet some clean ing. Pretzels would be a fabulous addition as well. Thanks Kristin, this is my favorite granola bars recipe yet!
Ooo, Bethany, pretzels would be a great addition! Annie’s makes a decent pretzel and they are pretty small, too. I bet they would work well.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying them. I wondered how well they would hold up with maple syrup. I’m glad to hear that sub worked!
I will have to look for those. I also like the organic Spelt Pretzels by Newman’s Own. I just wish they used Coconut Oil instead of Sunflower Oil. Which I guess isn’t so bad if one isn’t eating other processed foods.
I haven’t seen those yet. They sound like a great choice. Yea, a lot of companies use sunflower oil in their products–I agree with you.