When I was younger, I loved Nature Valley Bars.
It seemed like I could never get enough of the sweet, crunchy taste of my favorite granola bar. They were perfect for munching on after soccer practice, on the bus ride home from school, or even as a nice treat after a long day. And of course, there was always the option of sharing with a friend too… But of course I only did this once in a blue moon. Because why have one bar when you could have two?
Another one of my favorite ways to enjoy these bars was with a smear of peanut butter spread across the top, and maybe a glass of milk. That way, they had a nice, nutty flavor and the sweetness was dialed back a bit. But while this little treat may have been fine every once in a while, I challenge you to look at how many grams of sugar and different sweeteners are present in this bar. Consuming one or two of these may be the perfect snack after a long day of work every once in a while, but eating that much sugar in a short period of time every day will just leave you feeling exhausted and sluggish after the sugar high wears off.
And the calorie content is nothing to grin at once smeared in peanut butter and topped with the second bar.
This past week I was seriously craving one of these bars. Yet, I unfortunately didn’t have any on hand and was going to soccer practice later, so I knew I didn’t want anything too sweet. So, I decided to try duping the recipe, but instead include peanut butter in the batter, creating my favorite treat with half the hassel of bringing a container of PB to practice to spread on top.
The result? A complete success. These bars managed to be sweet and nutty thanks to the banana and peanut butter included in the recipe. In addition, they packed in 4 grams of protein a bar, the equivalent of the protein content in two of the Nature Valley bars. And since these bars were homemade, I was able to actually choose the ingredients included in the recipe. I decided to add coconut, cranberries, and almonds, but the possibilities really are endless. As long as you include the base of PB, oats, and banana, you can flavor these bars with chocolate, sunflower seeds, raisins, etc., etc. They’re totally customizable and absolutely delicious!
By far the best part of this recipe, though, is the fact that the bars are completely transportable. Just make a batch during the weekend, wrap a few in plastic bags, parchment paper, etc. and you’re good to go for sports practice, lunch, or a nice treat after work. And since they’re packed with healthy fats and protein, they’ll keep you feeling fuller longer and help avoid the inevitable sugar high other granola bars induce.
Crunchy, nutty, and packed with whole ingredients? Sounds like my kinda granola bar!
Oats N’ PB Granola Bars (Nature Valley Dupe)
- 1 c old fashioned oats
- 1/4 c plus 2 tbs peanut butter
- 1/2 banana
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbs reduced fat unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 c dried fruit (I used reduced sugar dried cranberries)
- 1 tbs flax seeds
- 1/4 c stevia
- 1/8 c chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mash 1/2 banana into oats. Once combined, stir in peanut butter until combined. Add vanilla, dried fruit, flax seeds, stevia, chopped nuts, and shredded coconut. Stir until fully combined. Grease a 9″x9″ pan and pour in ingredients. Press down with the back of a spoon until compressed and level. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before serving and enjoy! (Store in airtight container for up to a week.)
Nutrition Information (from myfitnesspal.com)
(Yields 12 bars)