These look a little like bird seed, but they're tasty and packed with good-for-you ingredients

I love, love protein bars in all their forms–Nutz Over Chocolate is my favorite Luna bar. And if you visit the Target in my neighborhood, you won’t find any Chocolate Brownie Zbars, I’ve cleaned ‘em out (uh, ditto for the oatmeal cookie bars). But protein bars can get pricey and with my kids spending more time outside than in these days–yeah, it’s Spring people–I wanted to create a kind of granola-slash-energy bar type treat that they could eat on the go.

These granola bites are so easy and get their sweetness from honey, not sugar. I did add an extra step to the process you can cut if you’re in a real hurry–but toasting the oatmeal and coconut together brings out the nutty flavor of both and only takes a few extra minutes. Feel free to go crazy with the optional extras. I opted for sesame seeds and mini chocolate chips but you can create your own combos with dried cherries and sunflower seeds or maybe toss in some flax. The recipe is forgiving–stir in more peanut butter or agave if you need extra moisture. And trust me, the cocoa powder goes a long way it just sticks to the oatmeal giving it an intense chocolaty flavor. One word of caution: only refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before rolling or else it will get too stiff. Speaking of getting things rolling, here’s the recipe.

Recipe

Prep time: 10 min + 30 min in the fridge + 10 min rolling

Servings: 20 balls

Need extra energy for playing outside? Try these granola bites


Ingredients

1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond)

1/3 cup honey

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon dark cocoa powder

1/4 cup craisins

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. In saute pan over medium high heat toast the oats and coconut together until the coconut just begins to become golden and fragrant.
  2. In a mixing bowl stir together all of the ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (don’t refrigerate any longer).
  4. Roll the batter into nickel-sized balls in your hands.*You can add more peanut butter or agave if the dough isn’t moist enough. It will be crumbly at first.
  5. Store the granola bites in the refrigerator or freezer.

Kids’ reactions: Actually, I need to start with Mr. Squid. His comment: “These are better than cookies, you should make these more often.” The teen went crazy over these and is taking them to track practice with her. My middle child–the non-peanut butter eater, sigh–sniffed out the PB right away and only nibbled one then passed it along to her younger sister. And my youngest? She agreed to do pictures but only if she could eat the granola bites immediately after.

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