toasted coconut + chocolate chip granola bars


Recently I had a pretty strong hankering for a chewy granola bar. Chewy with chocolate chips. It wasn't really any more specific than that, and I kept imagining the kinds that are (were?) in the foil wrappers that would appear in my lunchbox every now and then. You know the kind I'm talking about, right?

So I scoured the aisles of the grocery store for a box of chocolate chip granola bars. Not that I really had to look that hard: there are. so. many. options. I think at one point I had a stack of four or five different types, comparing ingredients and additives and watching out for the sneaky chicory root fiber. There were plenty of seemingly good choices by brands I know and like, but I suddenly felt a little silly, spending three bucks (I know) on something that I knew was easier than easy to make myself.

I know. I've become one of those people. The ones that you can't take anywhere because they always say, "Oh, well I could make that." But trust me, I'm still take-able because I only do it with food, and I'm usually right and not generally handy in any other way. I can't build you a bookshelf. Well, I don't know, maybe. But what I do know for sure is I can make granola bars. And so I did.

For this recipe, you'll need:

2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Simple, right? Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9" pan and line with parchment paper.

On a large baking tray, spread out your oats, almonds and coconut into a single layer. Toast for about 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and place the oats, almond and coconut into a large bowl. Reduce your oven temperature to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together your honey, vanilla and salt and immediately pour over the dry ingredients. Fold together using a rubber spatula, being sure to coat all of the dry ingredients. Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes (or, in the refrigerator for 10 minutes) before adding the chocolate chips to avoid melting.

Once your mixture has cooled enough, add your chocolate chips. Fold them into everything else and then press down into your prepared pan. The easiest way to do this is to slightly dampen your fingertips and work quickly, starting from the center and pressing out towards the edges. Transfer to the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. You do not want to wait for the bars to be fully hardened in the oven. Once they cool, you'll have granola rocks to snack on, which aren't so tooth-friendly.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, in the pan on a wire rack, for 2-3 hours. YIKES. I know, it's seriously long, but they don't set up or cut neatly into bars without the waiting.

If you can manage to wait, you have created the perfect snack. In between meals, on the go, post-run, etc. They have just enough sweet and just enough of what's good for you that it feels right. Craving satisfied. Granola bar mission accomplished.

Want to keep your shelves stocked with homemade granola? Try these other options: