Cereal bars and granola bars are such an easy grab-and-go snack, but most store brands come with a whole host of ingredients that you didn’t bargain for.
It seems like it should just be made of some grains and fruit, right? Check out the ingredient list of Kellogg’s Strawberry Nutri-Grain Bars:
CRUST: WHOLE GRAIN OATS, ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN B1 [THIAMIN MONONITRATE], VITAMIN B2 [RIBOFLAVIN], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN AND/OR CANOLA OIL, SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, SUGAR, DEXTROSE, FRUCTOSE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, WHEY, WHEAT BRAN, SALT, CELLULOSE, POTASSIUM BICARBONATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN, WHEAT GLUTEN, NIACINAMIDE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, CARRAGEENAN, ZINC OXIDE, REDUCED IRON, etc…
And even if you head over to the organic section and pick up something that seems “healthier” like Kashi’s Ripe Strawberry Cereal Bars, you’re still looking at a ton of hidden sweeteners and additives:
Strawberry Filling (Pear Juice Concentrate, Tapioca Syrup, Evaporated Cane Juice, Apple Powder, Strawberry Puree Concentrate, Unmodified Cornstarch, Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Natural Strawberry Flavor With Other Natural Flavors, Fruit Juice Concentrate For Color), etc…
Yuck. I’d rather put in a little time in the kitchen and make my own!
I’m happy to say that you’ll be able to pronounce every ingredient in this recipe. Just the basics.
I made a classic version with oats, whole wheat flour and strawberry jam as well as a gluten-free version with brown rice flour, oats and blackberry jam (pictured below). I could hardly tell the difference between the two doughs when they came out of the oven, so they’re both great substitutes for the big box brands you’re used to.
A few tips on working with the dough:
I assumed that if I put this dough in the fridge to set for a little bit it would be easier to work with. I was wrong! This dough is a little tacky, but it’s much easier to work with at room temperature than after it cools.
Chilling the dough makes it crack easier when you are rolling up the bars, and that means more filling will ooze out during baking. So keep the dough on the counter while you work with it.
I’d suggest making a double or triple batch of these. They will go fast!
Nutri-Grain-Style Cereal Bars (with gluten-free option)
*recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest, makes 8 bars
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (To make gluten-free, I substituted 1/2 cup brown rice flour + 1/2 cup oat flour + 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum. You could also try substituting a gluten-free all-purpose blend.)
- 3/4 cup oats, a gluten-free variety if necessary
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon corn starch
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon coconut oil, at room temperature (You could also use butter)
- 2 tablespoon plain greek yogurt (You could substitute coconut yogurt to make this dairy-free as well)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- about 1/2 cup of your favorite jam or jelly
- extra 1/4 cup oats, for topping
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, corn starch, cinnamon and salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the coconut oil, yogurt and honey. (A stand mixer works well for this, but you can mix well in a regular bowl with a whisk as well.) Add in the egg yolks and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until the batter forms a ball. Divide the dough into two balls, setting one aside.
- Dust your surface with a bit of flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle. You’ll be cutting the dough into 4″x4.5″ rectangles, and you should be able to get 4 out of each small ball of dough (to make 8 total bars). You’ll roll out one large rectangle, trim and cut enough for two bars, then roll out another rectangle to get two more. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut your shapes. If your dough is sticking, add a little more flour or put the dough between two pieces of parchment paper.
- Put a line of jam (1-2 tablespoons) down the middle of each small rectangle, being careful to leave room at the edge to pinch the dough. (If your jam is thick or clumpy, you can whisk it up to make it easier to apply.) Fold the sides of the dough over top of the line of jam, and pinch the ends together to seal it up. Flip the bar over (seam-side down) carefully and pinch any cracked areas.
- Place finished bars on your prepared baking sheet and top with oats, if using. Place the bars in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Remove the bars from the freezer and bake 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Let cool completely on a wire rack before storing.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator/freezer for longer.