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The First Run of Spring and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

The beautiful weather last week called unmercifully to me, poking its fingers of sunshine past the red brick building that blocks the view of the sky from my desk. I’ve got that spring itch, unique to the sunny days of late March and early April. It’s the kind of itch that forces my feet into my runnings shoes and propels me out the door to find out how much I suck.

Turns out, this year was not so bad. Maybe it was because M came with, cycling leisurely beside me with Mocha out front pulling him along so he didn’t even have to pedal. Maybe it was because Mocha’s insistence on a three-times-a-day walk  meant we couldn’t become the sloths we would usually become. Maybe it was the yoga I’ve done a little of this past winter. Or maybe it was the pizza we had the night before. Whatever it was, when I plugged our route into my running map, I was proud, surprised even, to see the distance end up at just under 5km. And I wasn’t even feeling that dead. Somehow, I managed to come through this winter alright.

After the run, these were the perfect snack. I made them last week sometime, determined to find a recipe for granola bars that can replace the store bought kind. I like granola bars, but they’re a little on the pricey side, not to mention all the extra packaging that goes along with them. (We don’t have the space for a recycling bin, so you can imagine the mess one simple cardboard box makes.) Unfortunately, this recipe is not it. Not because they’re not good: actually, they’re beyond delicious. But because they’re maybe a little too good. The addition of the chocolate chips moved them out of the realm of energy-packed snack and too close for comfort to the dessert category. Perhaps my nutritionally-minded mom might have some more thoughts, though I’m pretty certain that I took a healthy snack and turned it into some not so healthy.

I seem to be pretty good at doing that.

Either way, here’s the recipe! Adapted from a fellow blogger over at Food Doodles.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans.)
1 cup shredded coconut
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple or table syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup chocolate chips plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 350*. In a casserole or a baking sheet, mix and spread the oatmeal, nuts, and coconut. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats start to brown or until you get bored and want to move on to the next step. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300*.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the honey, syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for approximately 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter until melted. Add the dry ingredients to the hot, wet ingredients and mix well. Add the raisins.  Add the chocolate chips and stir as they melt into the oaty mixture. At this point, do not overstir. Add more chocolate chips if you want it to be more chocolaty.

Grease the casserole and press the oat mixture into the pan, making sure it is spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and press them in gently with your fingers or a spatula.

Bake (at 300*) for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for an hour and then cut into squares. Don’t wait too long to cut because the longer you wait, the harder they will be.


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