Tree Nut Free Granola Bars

Valentine's Day, to say we celebrate it wouldn't be accurate, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't, we show affection and love even on a day off. Sometimes heated discussion, a passion reserved only for those you care about the most. Jonathan and I in the kitchen, I wing it and interpret and he, literal, follows a recipe to the letter. He makes the perfect omelets time in and time out so I don't even bother. Boils eggs to right consistency with complete confidence unlike me. That is where his culinary adventures start and end, other than him being a very reluctant sous chef or more of a laborer in the kitchen. He summons all his wit and dry humor to the task but yet again it rolls off his tongue. At the receiving end I mostly burst out laughing as he catches me off guard and surprises with his sharp mind and smarts. After these many years together seems the guy still got some material and game and I call this love.
Speaking of love, often we speak of tidbits of the day and what we have read in the news or heard on NPR driving in the car. His reading of the political map recently was so accurate and predictions that are right on, but again he is a history buff. I mention tiger mom, which he missed, and Ayelet Waldman's name, which he vaguely recalled, comes up as she stirred up some controversy way before the current one. The discussion sparked and I put it plainly to Jonathan: 'do you love me or S more?' and he answers without as much as a flinch and serves the question right back. That is love.
I have made granola for breakfast before and always romanticized, not about chocolate, but the perfect granola bars. I almost settled on a recipe I've seen as it reminded me of my mom's Indian sesame or peanut brittle, but got less invested in it as I realized I don't want the granola bars to be crunchy, hard like a brittle but more chewy, soft. I eventually after careful scanning of many recipes, came across one at Smitten Kitchen's recipe that she adjusted from King Arthur Flour's website. This is my interpretation of it. I didn't use corn syrup, adjusted sugar:honey ratio and kept it tree nut free. I used Sugar in the Raw and toasted some of the seeds prior to adding to the mixture. I made three batches. In one I subbed apple sauce for the corn syrup and two without as I was shipping them as a care package to my son in college and probably his floor mates. The kid can't help himself. I loved both versions very much. The version below is what worked for us and is a keeper hopefully for generations, but please read Smitten Kitchen's suggestions and recipe carefully before proceeding. I promise you will come up with an exceptional version to call your own.

Granola Bars:

1 2/3 Cups rolled oats
1/2 Cup Sugar in the Raw
1/3 Cup rolled oats processed in food processor to oat flour
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 Cup peanut butter
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 Cup honey
1 Tablespoon water
3/4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes or fine
1/4 Cup flax seeds
3/4 Cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1/3-1/2 Cup currants
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce (optional)

Toss in a frying pan on dry low/medium heat first the sunflower seeds just to toast slightly even before getting golden, just for few minutes, then scoop into a large bowl. Next toss into same pan sesame seeds and toast slightly again. You will smell aroma of each ingredient and entire process is very quick, you don't want ingredients to burn or even to reach a deep color. Scoop sesame seeds into bowl with sunflower seeds. Last toss into pan coconut flakes for few minutes and scoop into same bowl with seeds.

From this point on you follow same directions as Smitten Kitchen's recipe here. I cut the bars into rectangular bars not squares as I am obsessed with the idea of bars, but practically speaking a serving will be half of that bar so smaller squares as you see at Smitten Kitchen's photograph make more sense.

Note and a tip: I used a meat tenderizer to press the granola. As you cut the granola bars you will have crumbs left. I collect all the crumbs into an air tight container and Jonathan has it as cereal with milk for breakfast.

Related posts: Rolled Oats Pancakes here and Snowy Day Granola here.

Costco find: Bulk Sugar in the Raw

Care package includes: Chocolate Chip/Banana and Meyer Lemon/Blueberry Muffins you can find here. Fine cooking's chewy brownies you can find here and these granola bars among other goodies. More pics to come as I put together the care package.


  1. Yum! Great Granola Bars Recipe! Happy Valentines Day Sweetie! :)

  2. I've been meaning to make granola... but have yet to hunker down and do it. Great post, Shulie!

  3. Yum, delicious and power-packed! I like homemade granola bars much much better than commercial ones.

  4. You know I have never made a granola bar at home. Don't know why, esp. since I hate the store bought ones. and "Oh yes" to the sesame peanut brittle. (**LOVE**) Nice recipe. Happy Valentine's Day!

  5. I like mine on the chewy side as well, though never attempted to make a batch at home.

    S sharing what you sent him is a testimony to what Ethan named his blog: Tastes Better with Friends. It was something I witnessed with J3 last week after school when I handed him ONE cinnamon pretzel. He shared it with 6 friends...Each getting probably just a small bite.

    You and J in the kitchen is sweet. Real valentines do not take a day off. Cheers, Shulie!

  6. When I saw how gorgeous your granola bars looked, I couldn't wait for you to post the recipe! I like my granola bars to be a bit chewy too and I just adore how you put so many delicious ingredients in your granola bars. :)

  7. Thank you for visiting and commenting my friends. Happy Valentine's Day everyone. Thx Sara, Nisrine, yes indeed it is power packed. Brian, Annapet and Soma, once you make it at home as Nisrine said you can't bring yourself to get the commercially made ones. One try and you are hooked! Soma, yay to brittle definite favorite growing up! :) Annapet, J3 is wonderful. Sagie is so good natured and hearted and you are right it tastes better with friends as Ethan says. Yup, J & I are funny that way. Lindsey the possibilities and combinations to these bars are amazing!! I just couldn't believe the burst of goodness in every bite:).

  8. I wonder if this would work with soy nut or sunflower butter, so it can be peanut free too. If I could, I'd buy them buy the truckload for our nut-free family. Sounds fantastic Shulie! I'm drooling over here...

  9. I was just thinking about you yesterday as I was for the first time looking at sunflower butter at Whole Foods & yes definitely! Smitten Kitchen used almond butter so yes substitute with other seed butters. Let me know how they turned out!!

  10. This is a lovely post, Shulie. There's a harmony between the two of you that some couples never reach. Happy to hear this about you and your Valentine. Some of the tidbits about your hubby sound like my husband. :-)

    Your granola bars look perfect. I've actually never made my own. Something tells me I'll be trying soon. :-)

    Happy Valentine to you and yours!

  11. I really need to make my own for hubs to have for afternoon treats

  12. Well said Shulie, it's all about showing you care the other 364 days of the year:)
    I've always wanted to make my own granola, maybe this is the kick I needed.
    As for tasting better with friends, I agree ;)

  13. looks great like flatjack and yep he gave the right answer happy valentines

  14. Thanks Jean, makes me smile thinking J & your hubs draw some parallels:) Somehow it works. We've been married for 23 years. I should mention to you, Kat, Ethan and the rest of the gang making the granola bars that I trimmed the crispy edges before cutting the bars and J has it as cereal in the morning with milk. Kat, Ethan thanks. Rebecca, trick is no answer in this case will be a wrong answer, right?! :) I love it when you all drop by as usual. Happy Valentine Day everyone.

  15. Love a delicious healthy recipe amidst the many sweet treat for V-day. I'll definitely want to give this a try.

  16. I was laughing reading the rapport between you and your husband, sounds like you two are in perfect harmony! These granola bars are fantastic, I like that you used honey instead of corn syrup, I like to try and stay away from corn syrup in my baked goods when I can, and the sesame seeds and flax seeds sound like a great combination. I'm sure your son and his friends will have devoured these in no time! Wishing you a very Happy Valentine's Day.

  17. Happy Day After Valentine's Day!
    I send granola bars with my children to school but must admit to not trying to make them myself. I guess it really is time! Thank you for your inspirational post.

  18. It's a pretty cool deal when two people can share a kitchen like that - snarky humor or not, it's a lesson you could probably teach to me and my fiancee ... we get in each others' way in there more often than we help!

    And those granola bars look fantastic ...

  19. Shulie-what a great post! You and Jonathan sound perfect for each other. True love. These bars are amazing! I'll have to try it and do w/chocolate for my little choc fiends. xox

  20. Thank you Ken, you are absolutely right, was a great healthy alternative to Valentine's Day candy:). Thx Sylvie, harmonious most of the time, comical all the time! :) Made an extra batch today for us and prepping for next care package.Thx Lael, that is a brilliant idea sending granola bar with school lunch I wish I could have thought if it when S was young. Rich, It is only a matter of time, you will see, but even when we get in each other ways more often then not we just shrug it. :) You should try them the bars are delicious! Lora, deary, it was faith lol, as I didn't go to his 20th b-day cause' was invited by a mutual friend but didn't know him, but sure enough ran into him a week later. :) Chocolate is always something I consider even for a big kid like mine. Always wins them over. Let me know if you try.