DIY Granola Bars

May 18 2009, 10:50 AM

It's always bothered me that many store-bought granola bars have so many unnatural ingredients and, frankly, a few too many calories for me to include them on my small shelf of healthy snacks.

When I'm looking for easy recipes, I always default to Mark Bittman, a New York Times food writer and the author of a stellar cookbook, How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food.

When I saw that Bittman had a recipe for no-bake granola bars, I thought I was golden. But I've found his recipe much too sweet. In fact, the bars dripped with honey. And unless you're Winnie the Pooh, I think you might like my less-sweet version, in which I decreased the honey and temper its thick texture with maple syrup:

Jennie and Mark Bittman's No-Bake Granola Bars

Slightly less than ¼ cup honey

Slightly less than ¼ cup maple syrup

½ cup brown sugar (Note: If you choose a sweeter granola, reduce to ¼ cup.)

¼ cup neutral oil

3 cups granola (It works best to use the tiny crumbs, not the big clusters. A quick run through a blender or food processor can help. Also, you can get granola in the bulk aisle with dried fruit and nuts, an easy way to jazz up these simple bars.)

Step 1: Put honey, syrup, brown sugar, and oil in a small pot and boil. (Note: This happens fast, and if you leave this gooey mess unattended you'll have a charred, sticky pot on your hands.)

Step 2: Pour your granola into a bowl. Pour the sweet mixture over the granola and mix until it's well-coated.

Step 3: Press the yumminess into an 8- or 9-inch pan and let it cool in the fridge. Or, if you're impatient like me, stick it in the freezer so it's ready after your next workout.

I cut my bars and leave them in the fridge. They make for cool snacks after a sweaty run.