Twelve days, seven states, I don’t even want to count how many miles, and one adorable three-month-old. Despite those frightening figures, our recent road trip (I’ve been calling it the Great Great Grandparent Midwestern Tour) was a smash success. Leif got to meet all the people before him and the people before them, and we marveled at how such a tiny person can bring so much joy to a room.
We also ate granola bars. Let me tell you the story. Spoiler: It’s a tragicomedy.
After an evening devoted to the careful review of the approximately three dozen granola bar recipes I’ve tagged over the years (wanna hang out sometime? I’m super fun), I chose the one I knew would be a success: Smitten Kitchens’ thick and chewy granola bars. When you need to get a recipe right, get it from her.
Batch 1 was perfection: sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts mingling with oats and chocolate chunks in a bar that actually held together. We snacked on those from Nashville to St. Louis to Des Moines.
But then we realized we had more driving to do. We couldn’t face those miles without granola bars, so I made another batch at my parents’ house.
Thing 1 I did wrong: They didn’t have parchment paper so I used wax paper, then tenderly filleted that paper off the bottom of the bars when it melded with the mixture after baking.
Thing 2 I did wrong: I left the bars at dog level.
You see, my parents have an adorable Chow/Newfie rescue dog that has a slight anxiety problem. By slight I mean this dog, when left alone, hunts out every single paper (and oat) product in the house, chews it up, and deposits it on the living room rug as a really sweet welcome home gift for my parents.
When we got home from church the night I made batch 2, the rug was strewn with chewed up dirty diapers (all the ewwwwws), paper of unknown origin, and one previously perfectly filleted batch of granola bars. Although in an unexpected twist, Sirius* chewed up the ziploc bag and left the bars. (No, we didn’t eat them. I cannot with dog slobber.)
Batch 3 came together yesterday back at home when we needed a good snack. This time I mixed cashews and coconut with chocolate. There will always be chocolate. We fell in love all over again. These bars are sweet enough to be a treat, but hearty and wholesome enough that you don’t feel too bad about it.
Jump to her recipe and try them out with my whole-food substitutions:
1/2 cup coconut sugar for the granulated sugar
6 tablespoons coconut oil for the butter (though I’d happily make these with butter now that I’m eating dairy again)
2 tablespoons honey for the corn syrup
*Yes, my parents’ dog is named after Sirius Black from Harry Potter. And yes, they are the coolest parents ever.