No Bake Peanut Butter Chia Healthy Granola Bars
I made these No Bake Peanut Butter Chia Healthy Granola Bars in honor of my sister, who recently informed me that she is, “over quinoa.”
Over quinoa? Has the sun set on this little fiber and protein-rich powerhouse? Did its popularity rise, then fade into oblivion like the cupcakes and Krispy Kremes of yore? Or could my sister just have been toying with my emotions?
I’m hoping it’s the latter, because in addition to a fierce addiction to these Chicken Quinoa Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers, I have enough quinoa squirreled away in my basement to feed a small football team, assuming that football team is, you know, into quinoa.
Since my sister is due to pop any second with my very first niece or nephew (yes, I am going to be an aunt!), I thought that the least that I could do would be to create a recipe for her that was mommy-friendly—no baking, one bowl, freezer friendly, healthy, endlessly flexible, kid-approved, and super-powered—and was quinoa-free. It was also a good challenge to myself to incorporate new ingredients and grains that would still provide fabulous nutrition benefits, without involving the q-word.
The first thing that you should know about this healthy granola bar recipe is that it is ultra versatile. The base is peanut butter, oatmeal, and honey, and from there, how you customize the no bake bars is up to your preferences (or what is immediately available in your pantry). I stirred in a generous handful of nuts for protein, chia seeds for fiber, and millet for crunch.
If you’ve never had millet, it’s a whole grain that’s ridiculously affordable, nutritious, and most commonly associated with bird seed, but do not be fooled. Cooked, it makes a refreshing swap for oatmeal or rice, and raw it adds an addictive crunch to everything from Pumpkin Granola to these Buttermilk Crunch Muffins. If you don’t have or prefer not to purchase millet, you can swap it for additional rolled oats, extra chia, or for a similar crunchy texture, uncooked quinoa (sorry sis).
Peanut butter base secured, it’s time for fun part of any homemade healthy granola bar recipe: the mix-ins! I loaded my chia bars with walnuts and chopped dates, but feel free to swap any combo of dried fruits and nuts you love—or just go with a giant handful of chocolate chips. Whichever homemade granola bar path you choose, I am confident in your decision.
These no bake healthy granola bars are soft, chewy, loaded with smooth peanut butter and honey flavor, and best of all, they are great for you too. They’re also freezer-friendly, so you can use these last few weeks of summer to stock up before the back-to-school madness strikes.
Or in the case of our family, baby madness!
No Bake Peanut Butter Chia Healthy Granola Bars
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats — (quick cooking can also be used—I just prefer the chewier texture of the old fashioned)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts — (walnuts, pecans, and almonds or a mix. I used walnuts)
- 1/4 cup uncooked millet — or uncooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter — (do not use the kind that must be refrigerated or the bars may not set)
- 1/3 cup honey — (I like raw—use maple syrup to make vegan)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips, — dried cherries, raisins, chopped dried apricots, chopped dried dates, etc. (I used chopped mejool dates)
- OPTIONAL: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the oats, nuts, quinoa or millet, and chia seeds on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until the mixture is lightly golden and smells toasty, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with plastic wrap or parchment paper, lightly mist with cooking spray, then set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt together the peanut butter and honey, stirring frequently until creamy and smooth. Remove from the heat, then stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, millet (or quinoa), nuts, and chia seeds. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the top, then with a rubber spatula, stir until the ingredients are evenly coated. If using chocolate, let the mixture cool for 1 to 2 minutes to ensure the chocolate doesn't melt, then stir in any desired mix-ins (if you are not adding chocolate, you can stir in the mix-ins right away).
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. With a rubber spatula, press it firmly to the edges, then place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top and press down firmly with your fingers to make sure it is spread tightly and evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the bars to set and the flavors to mingle. Use the plastic or parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan, slice into bars, and enjoy.
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