John and I kind of have a thing for granola bars. It started when we discovered the glory that is Trader Joe’s Apple (Pie) Bars. Then, we got into more basic versions with rolled oats. But somewhere along the line we got suspicious of the ingredients – namely high fructose corn devil – and strayed away from them altogether.
However, sometimes you really just need a snack that has some serious staying power. And being that this is Minimalist Baker, you know I wanted something simple. Enter: The 5-Ingredient (No-Bake) Granola Bar. Things are getting seriously minimalist right now.
The base for these bars is dates – the natural sweetener supah powah. Then we add almonds, oats, peanut butter, and honey (or maple syrup) and mix it all together!
That’s it. Just 5 ingredients, no baking involved (unless you want to toast the oats and almonds) and they’ll keep in the freezer for-ever (that is, if you can resist them for that long).
If you can’t jive with peanut butter simply swap in almond, sunflower or another nut/seed butter. To keep these vegan, stick with maple syrup or agave instead of honey. And to keep them gluten-free, use GF oats. Simple, customizable, delicious.
Speaking of delicious, these little guys are dreamy.
Simple flavors, wholesome ingredients, salty-sweet and lots of crunch. I made a batch last week and am already down to one-quarter of ONE bar. How I exercised the self control to save one quarter of a bar is beyond me. But by tomorrow it likely won’t be there, if I know myself at all.
These really are the perfect bar for a hearty snack because they keep you full for hours and don’t provide a sugar overload. Plus, they pack in plenty of healthy fats from the almonds and peanut butter, and lots of fiber from the oats. Afternoon and mid-morning snack, solved.
September 23, 2016: Video added and recipe updated to include slightly more dates so the bars stick together more easily.
Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars
- 1 heaping cup packed dates (pitted // deglet noor or medjool)*
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar (or honey if not vegan)
- 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds (loosely chopped // see instructions for roasting nuts)
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free for GF eaters)
- Chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc. (optional additions)
Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a "dough" like consistency. (Mine rolled into a ball.)
Optional step: Toast your oats (and almonds if raw) in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Otherwise, leave them raw - I prefer the toasted flavor.
Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl - set aside.
Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8x8-inch baking dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily. (A loaf pan might work, but will yield thicker bars // adjust size of pan if altering batch size).
Press down firmly until uniformly flattened - I use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.
Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares // as original recipe is written). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn't necessary.
*Although not ideal, if your dates don't feel sticky and moist, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help them blend better and hold the bars together better. But ideally, you can find fresh, sticky moist dates.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
Nutrition Per Serving (1 of 10 bars)
- Calories: 217
- Fat: 8g
- Saturated fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 31g
- Fiber: 4g
- Sugar: 19g
- Protein: 6g