It's been awhile since I've made my own granola bars as I've been taking the more convenient route of buying them from the grocery store instead. Lately I've been enjoying Kashi chewy granola bars in my favourite flavour: cherry and dark chocolate.
I love the combination of dried cherries with chocolate chips in a granola bar because it makes a healthy snack taste a bit more decadent! Since that brand can be a bit expensive if they're not on sale though, I wanted to make my own version of a granola bar with those same flavours.
I turned to the blog Healthy Food for Living for my recipe inspiration because I've tried her granola bars in the past and loved them. I only made a few minor changes, swapping almond butter for the peanut butter, changing some of the ingredient amounts, and adding some chopped pecans. I also followed her suggestion of baking them in a loaf pan to get thicker bars.
These came out soft and chewy, with lots of flavour - just how I like my granola bars! I also liked that they were plenty sweet for my tastes with only a bit of extra sweetener (in the form of pure maple syrup) because the tart cherries added some sweetness of their own.
These make a tasty and hearty snack that you can cut into whatever size you want - smaller squares or longer granola bars. I can't say that I'll stop buying Kashi or other granola bars, but it's nice to have a homemade snack around once in a while too!
Almond Butter, Cherry & Chocolate Granola Bars
Adapted from Healthy Food for Living
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup large rolled oats
1.5 cups rice krispies (or another type of puffed rice)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cherries
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x5” loaf pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together the applesauce, maple syrup, and almond butter until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients until everything is evenly coated.
Pour into prepared pan, smoothing out the top with a rubber spatula. Use your hands or the spatula to press down firmly on the top so that the mixture holds together tightly.
Makes about 10 squares.