Making your kids’ lunches everyday can be a pretty mundane and thankless job. It’s hard to keep it varied, and healthy, and most of all, something that gets eaten.
I find I am constantly looking for ways to keep lunch interesting, without having to resort to bento boxes, which in my mind seems way to finicky before 8am! I like easy, mindless, half-awake lunch add-ins, that keep well, pack a nutrient-dense punch, and still taste pretty darn good. Like these granola bars. My daughter is crazy for granola bars. Loves them. And could probably eat them every single day.
That being said, she’s also pretty picky about them (of course she is!). I have tried, and failed at, a number of recipes in search of the perfectly perfect granola bar for Little Miss Granola Bar Lover. My fails came at my assumption that if I thought they were good, so would she. But I made the cardinal mom mistake: never assume that you know your kid! Apparently my super crunchy, deeply roasted, honey soaked granola bars weren’t cutting it. Why? Because of the one caveat I totally missed the mark on (there’s always a caveat with a 5 year old!): granola bars must be chewy!! Who knew?! I’m a crunchy girl. I like my cookies to snap and my bacon to shatter (well, maybe thats a bit of an exaggeration, but if you want to see me gag, pass me some wiggly pink bacon…blech!) But back to the granola bars:
Easy, Chewy, and Nut-free Granola Bars! Hooray!!
Turns out, soft and chewy granola bars are just as easy to make as crunchy ones. Maybe easier if you consider they’re no-bake. You read right: no baking required! They also freeze really well. I portion them and wrap each one individually in waxed paper, then freeze them. In the morning I just grab one, toss it into her lunch bag and by the time she goes to eat it, it’s nice and soft and ready to go!
This recipe is really customizable. For school, we keep it nut-free and safe for everyone, but you could easily swap in some great nut butters and toss in some almonds, peanuts, or walnuts. What takes this granola bar to the next level for me is toasting the oats. Yup, something as simple as toasting the oats can make your no-bake granola bars taste about a million times better, and like they’ve been baked. Now, it isn’t necessary, but, well-worth it if you have the time.
Toasting Oats 101
You can easily toast oats two different ways: either in a large frying pan over medium heat, or on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Just keep an eye on them, because they’ll overtoast before you know it. If you choose the stovetop method, keep in mind you’ll have to stand there stirring the oats until they’re golden. Otherwise you’ll end up with overly dark charry flecks that used to be oats (#asmehowiknow).