Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bars
Remember back when I dedicated an entire blog post to my (unofficial) dissertation acknowledgments? That list summed up a lot of what my life was like during the 7 years I spent in graduate school. Laptopping, caffeinating, internetting, and procrasti-cooking.
Now that I finally have my PhD, it’s been odd adjusting to life as a non-student. My first few months of unstructured
(un-)(self-)employment as a freelance editor felt remarkably similar to the years when I was working on my dissertation, except suddenly I wasn’t stressed about both school and money anymore! (Just money!)
Since the beginning of this month, though, I’ve needed to start adjusting to my non-studentness even faster: I got a new job!
I’m working in the writing center of a local university, and I get to be involved both with administrative work and in training our peer writing tutors, which means that part of my job will also be to keep up with research on the teaching of writing.
I feel very lucky to have found a job that seems challenging and interesting, and also grateful that it’s only part time, so I can still do a little freelance editing, (and keep up the blogging) on the side.
I’ll miss the completely unstructured time I had as a student, and I’ll miss friendships with fellow grad students when we were all in the same boat, but other than that, I am excited to transition from student person to non-student person!*
The time issue is what will require the most adjustment, though. I can no longer spend my days sitting at my computer in my pajamas, and walking out to the kitchen to nibble on things every 45 minutes or so, all day long…
Instead, I have to wake up BEFORE THE SUN RISES every morning to get dressed and drive Paula to work — I fully acknowledge that this is what Paula has always done for her full-time job, without ever complaining about it — so I can use the car to drive to work, and I also have to remember to pack a lunch, and utensils, and snacks.
Snacks are always an essential for me; I basically never leave the house without some. (Exception: if I am going directly to a restaurant, then returning directly home.)
And snacks are extra essential when you have a job that involves weird hours that differ from day to day, not to mention lots of coordinating with other people’s schedules, covering for other people during their lunch breaks, and having lots of irregular and/or spontaneous meetings, often somewhere in the 11am-2pm range.
That’s where hearty, healthy homemade snacks like almond butter granola bars come in. I’ve made a batch of these every weekend since starting my new job, and then Paula and I bring them to work and eat them over the week.
I have nothing against storebought granola bars, really (except that they’re overly sweet and expensive), but homemade granola bars — as I’ve only recently discovered — are truly easy to make; and you can of course adjust the sweetness and mix in whatever dried nuts, dried fruit, crunchy cereal, or crazy flavorings you like.
The first type of homemade bars I tried making were peanut butter banana granola bars, which were good, but a little… banana-y. These are a little drier and firmer than granola bars made with banana, but they’re still plenty sweet and flavorful, thanks to almond butter, cocoa powder, agave or maple syrup, roughly chopped almonds, and chocolate chips.
And despite those sweet ingredients, they still seem pretty healthy to me, especially considering that they are about 70% oats, with some omega-3 flax seeds added in (to act like an egg in binding the oats together).
As you might imagine, they’re also quite filling! I can personally vouch for the fact that if you completely forget to eat lunch one day, but then eat two of these around 3pm instead, it will be a lot easier to make it till dinner time.
* I’ll also miss bringing my laptop to coffee shops to work — although the real reason I can’t do that anymore is because I now require a crazy set-up (foot rest, raised laptop monitor, ergonomic keyboard, and ergonomic mouse) because of my RSI/tendinitis. But I can see the upside, too: I guess now I’ll have to be one of those people who goes to coffee shops just to sit, talk, and enjoy drinking coffee!
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Almond Butter Chocolate Granola Bars
(Inspired by the Peanut Butter Banana Granola Bars in OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester.)
(Makes 16 granola bars)
Active time: 15 minutes; Total time: 40 minutes.
~ 3 cups oats
~ ½ tsp. cocoa powder
~ ¼ tsp. salt
~ dash of cinnamon
~ 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
~ 5 Tbsp. warm water
~ ⅔ cup unsalted almond butter (or peanut butter)
~ ⅓ cup agave syrup or maple syrup
~ ½ tsp. vanilla extract
~ ¼ cup almonds, chopped
~ ½ cup chocolate chips
How to make it:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the ground flax seeds with the warm water, stir, and let sit for 2-3 minutes (it will thicken up slightly, acting like an egg to bind the ingredients together).
3. To the small bowl with the flax seed “eggs,” add the almond butter, syrup, and vanilla extract, and stir until smooth (breaking up any large clumps of almond butter).
4. Use a silicone spatula to add the wet ingredients in the small bowl to the dry ones in the medium bowl, and stir until well-combined. Mix in the chopped almonds and chocolate chips.
5. Turn out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and use the spatula to press it into a large rectangle, even out the surface, and neaten up the sides.
6. Bake for 25 minutes. Then let cool before slicing into 16 small rectangular granola bars (or whatever size/shape you prefer). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
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