Wouldn’t it be nice if every time we wanted a snack, or a simple breakfast or not-too-sweet dessert, we could just pull it out of the fridge in no time flat? I’ve got a solution for you. Meet these quick and easy, no-bake healthier granola bites.
Short of a personal chef, we all need to expend a little effort to eat well. As life continues to move along and cooking isn’t my only priority (you can relate?!), I’ve been experimenting with new recipes and ways to streamline the “grocery store to mouth in a tasty and respectable manner” process.
Homemade Granola Bars Coming Right Up
This past weekend, M asked me to make homemade granola bars. Not only might they make a good snack for him but also for the boys (and me of course, who am I kidding?).
By no means am I ready to quit sugar. As Schaub mentions in her book, sugar is deeply ingrained in our culture, and I’m not currently committed enough to go all-in against The Sugar Machine that is our food system. I have, however, been working on a slow and steady decrease in the amount of sugar hiding in our cabinets and refrigerator. Sugar’s a sneaky thing (and has a host of aliases) so it’s not always easy to spot by quick glance.
If you’ve ever thoroughly read the ingredients of most store-bought granola bars, it’s evident that they aren’t really a healthy food. There’s actually quite a bit of sugar in them, even when they’re deemed to be the “healthy” alternatives.
After scanning Pinterest for some good recipes, I found nothing that seemed just right. Even the most seemingly healthy options had honey or maple syrup in them (i.e. liquid sugar), so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Essentially, I pieced together a few notes of inspiration from other recipes, focused on using things we already had in our pantry, and decided to replace the honey or maple syrup component (the “glue”) with almond butter. Nut butters are sticky, right?
What’s the Verdict?
They turned out, in my opinion, really well! They’re a little more fragile or crumbly than commercial granola bars because the almond butter doesn’t act like quite as strong a glue as store-bought ingredients (though I’m not sure how I feel about eating “glue” so maybe that’s a good thing). For preservation of both shape and freshness, we keep ours in the fridge in an airtight container.
I love the taste and the texture (and I’m a bit ruthless as a critic of texture… a.k.a. I’m picky). They’re not overly sweet despite the small doses of chocolate chips and raisins. The almond butter makes me a bit thirsty (which I actually like, because I never drink enough water). And they definitely don’t leave me with the ‘craving for more’ aftertaste of which so many sugary granola bars are guilty.
All in all, I think I nailed it. But you can certainly make them for yourself and be your own critic.
Aren’t Make Ahead Meals and Snacks the Best?
Here’s another added bonus about this recipe. You can make a giant batch all at once and freeze some of them for weeks or months later. Then, you really can just pull a little nugget of golden goodness out of your freezer at a moment’s notice! You like that?
In our house, we double or triple many recipes and store a portion in the freezer for another week. That allows us to make two or three meals a week, pull a couple others out of the freezer, and we’ve got fresh and healthy food on the table just about every night.
As of late, I’ve been experimenting with Once a Month Meals, which is essentially meal planning on steroids. Once a Month Meals teaches you all the skills and provides full ingredient lists and recipes to prepare an entire month’s worth of meals in two days. I most love that they offer specialized menu options for preferences like “Real Food” and “Vegetarian” and “Allergy-Friendly” so I can easily scan through only the ones that meet our family’s eating habits.
Under their method, Day One entails a few hours of grocery shopping. Day Two is packed with meal prep and filling your freezer with ready-to-go meals. After two days of cooking, you’re basically done for a month. Although the two days demand some significant time, it’s a fruitful trade-off for time and stress saved the rest of the month when mealtime rolls around and you’re ready to go.
Like the ‘quitting sugar’ adventure, I’m not ready to go all-in on preparing every meal for our family for a month in advance. I’m just not really an “all-in” person when it comes to much (for better and for worse). But I have been experimenting with their site, cooking plans, recipes and make-ahead meal planning ideas. I’ve found them super helpful and easy to use.
Once a Month Meals offers a few mini menus for free to get a taste of their service. For full access to recipes and their meal-planning software, they charge a small monthly fee, but there are no commitments. If you’ve got any interest in learning how to best utilize your freezer to streamline your meal planning process (what freezes well, how to freeze things without freezer burn, etc…), the introductory email series is well worth the first month’s investment.
M and I joke that if we don’t know what’s for dinner by 8 am, there’s little chance we’re eating at home and even smaller likelihood it’s something healthy. With two full-time jobs, we don’t have time or energy to figure something out in the evening with four hungry stomachs patrolling the kitchen. We need to get home, know the plan, and execute.
Whether it be Once a Month Meals, these perfect little granola bites or a host of other recipes we prepare in advance, having a plan (and some back up options in our freezer) is a game-changer on our journey toward ever cleaner eating.
Here’s to a little diligent planning earning us some seriously healthy grub!
Healthy No Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Granola Bites
- 12 oz almond butter
- 2.5 cups rolled oats
- 1.5 cups raisins
- 4 oz chocolate chips
- 2/3 cups unsalted cashews ground
If your cashews are whole, like mine where, grind them up in a food processor. They'll be good to go in no time.
Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl, until well mixed.
Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Form the mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. I found it was easier to push and hold the mixture together instead of roll them to create more sturdy bites.
Let set in freezer for 2 - 3 hours. Store in fridge for up to a week or so or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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