easy, homemade granola bars

The transition from winter to spring is quite incredible to watch happen here. It seems we were buried under a couple feet of snow just a few weeks ago. Then today I noticed tractors roaming fields, prepping the land for a new growing season. Still, I’m not quite ready to exhale and pack up my down coat. Two weeks ago signaled our first taste of warmer temperatures. It inspired me to get outside, and tend to the garden. I raked, hauled a few barrels of leaves and trimmings to my neighbor’s burn pile, and then we woke up the next morning to a generous coating of snow. It was nature’s reminder that April is a precarious month.

I’m sticking my head out of its winter shell, though, and find myself cooking lighter fare. This time of year is exciting, thinking about what will be trickling into farmers’ markets over the next month. It breathes new life into my kitchen routines, and this past Sunday I found myself taking a fresh approach to packing the girls’ school lunches. We’re in the home stretch with less than 40 lunches left to go. For a few months now I’ve been buying granola bars. I have a favorite brand that pretty much uses the same ingredients I do, and  it means one less thing on my to do list. Most weeks I can’t seem to keep up with the supply and demand of granola for breakfast and enough left to make bars. The longer supply of daylight, though, and fresh air blowing in through the kitchen window was enough to up my energy level this weekend. Funny how as the temperatures rise, I get the urge to crank up the oven.

If you have Homemade with Love, this recipe might already be in your regular rotation. Since none of us can agree on dried fruit in our granola, I tend to leave it out all together (dried sour cherries are my favorite). I was feeling super inspired this weekend, and went all Martha Stewart on the granola bars, wrapping them in parchment, and tying them with butcher’s twine. They look cute tucked into the kids bento boxes, and makes me feel like they have a present to unwrap from me in the middle of the day.

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Easy, Homemade Granola Bars

Makes twelve 1 1/2—inch x 3 1/2-inch bars

1/4 cup (95 grams) brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon (5 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons (24 grams) packed brown sugar

2 1/2 cups (277 grams) granola  (see note below)

Preheat the oven to 350º. Line an 8-inch by 8-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides of the pan.

Combine the brown rice syrup, oil and sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Add the granola to a large heat-proof bowl. Pour the syrup mixture over the granola, stirring well with a non-stick rubber spatula. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and spread it out into an even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 12 equal-sized bars. Store in an airtight container for up to one week, though they’ll likely disappear in a few days time.

NOTE: You can use your favorite store-bought granola, or use this recipe on the blog, and swap in whatever combination of nuts and dried fruits you prefer. It’s one of my favorite versions of my DIY Granola recipe from Homemade with Love.