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Homemade Granola Bars (made with olive oil and coconut oil)

June 7, 2012
Olive and Coconut Oil Granola Bars

Olive and Coconut Oil Granola Bars

Next week is my birthday and I’ve been looking forward to it since the calendar finally flipped from May to June. I love my birthday. Or, more accurately, I love birthday cake and an excuse to spend more than my usual $12 on a bottle of wine. If aging is the price to pay for a giant slice of frosted cake and a delicious glass of vino, so be it.

But this year, my birthday is making me feel a little blue.  It’s not my age, which will officially and forever be leaving the mid thirties and drifting into the late portion of the decade. I feel pretty good about that. What’s getting me down is the birthday present that I want this year. Typically I would hope for something fun or pretty or heartwarming. A new cookbook, a small piece of jewelry or a big bouquet of handpicked flowers.  Never have I secretly hoped for a  toilet scrubbed so clean that it looks brand new, or doorways that don’t have smudgy fingerprints all over them or kitchen drawers that aren’t filled with crumbs. What does it say about my life when the gift I’m yearning for most is a really clean house?

We don’t have a regular housekeeper and I don’t particularly want one, but wouldn’t it be great to have a crew come in once a year and do a serious deep clean of your house? I’m talking about wiping down walls and kitchen cupboards and floorboards and really scouring the tub so I’m not afraid to let my 19 month old take a real bath. She’s slightly tall for her age, 33 inches to be exact, and I still give her baths in the infant tub we bought when she was 1 month old. I tell myself that it’s because I love the environment and save water by bathing her in an infant tub, but really it’s because cleaning the real bathtub is one of my least favorite chores. How long can I get away with this? At what age will she realize that not all kids have to scrunch up in a little ball every time they bathe?

We all know that a squeaky clean house isn’t the most important thing in the world, but in that moment when everything is put away and the floors are scrubbed and not a dirty dish is in sight, it feels like everything in life is going to be okay. It feels like you do actually have some control over the universe and that you don’t completely suck at being an adult. But is having a cleaning crew scrub my house down really what I want for my birthday? Shouldn’t I just have it done without feeling like it’s an extravagance that should be a gift? Or maybe I should just forget about it entirely and stop looking at my dirty floorboards.

These are the questions I pondered the other night when, instead of cleaning my kitchen, I made it dirtier by baking a batch of completely delicious granola bars adapted from a recipe on Orangette. By “adapted” I mean that I changed parts of the recipe because I didn’t want to go to the store to buy ingredients. Using what I had on hand, the granola bars turned out to be really, really good and might just be my favorite granola bar recipe yet. Don’t be fooled by the oats; these are not health food bars. They are full-on dessert.

One more thing…the recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of honey and I may or may not have put that many in my batch. The honey was almost gone and was dripping out so slowly that I started getting anxious about all the time I wasting trying to use the last bit of honey from the squeezable bear because the baby was going to wake up soon and then I started getting annoyed and silently cursing the f*cking honey bear which made me feel like the stress level in my life was getting way out of hand because what kind of person curses out a honey bear? Then I forgot how many tablespoons I had put in. You know how it goes.

**Update: I have since made the bars again, adding less sugar and honey, and they are still plenty sweet for me, although they don’t hold together quite as well. To try this less-sweet version, use 2 tablespoons sugar, 4 tablespoons honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. All other ingredient amounts remain the same.


2 cups quick-cooking oats (in a pinch, you can also use old fashioned oats, but they give the bars a rougher texture)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts, crushed or roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/3 of a 3.5 ounce chocolate bar, roughly chopped (I used Valhrona 85% dark chocolate)
1/3 cup almond butter (I used Trader Joe’s Almond Butter with Roasted Flax Seeds)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons coconut oil
6 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water

Step 1: Dry Ingredients


Preheat oven to 350

Lightly grease an 8″ square baking pan then line it with lightly greased or buttered parchment paper, leaving an overhang of parchment around the edges of the pan. This is necessary to keep the bars from sticking to the pan and to make it easy to remove them from the pan after they bake.

Process 1 cup of oats in the food processor until fine. In a large bowl, stir together the processed oats with the remaining cup of oats and the sugar, walnuts, salt and chocolate.

Step 2: Mix Wet & Dry

In a smaller bowl whisk together the almond butter, vanilla, oils, honey and water. Taste it. Delicious, right?

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing really well until all the oats are wet.

Use a lightly greased spoon to pat the oats evenly into the baking pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned around the edges. Take the pan out of the oven but don’t try to remove the bars until they cool completely, or they will crumble and you won’t be able to cut bars.

Step 3: Pat into the Pan

After letting the pan cool for about an hour, I then put the pan in the fridge for another hour or so before cutting them. I store the bars in the fridge as well – they stay firmer that way and are less crumbly.

One Comment leave one →
  1. sorin permalink
    June 7, 2012 6:45 pm

    Okay I get the hint. I’ll get the house clean for your birthday!

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