Ride to eat, eat to ride? Whatever your philosophy, being a badass WTF cyclist requires a lot of energy. And you're probably busy, so it's nice to have something you can grab without any work. In my opinion, these granola bars fall between ride food (eat while you're rolling) and wrench food (cookies eaten on a first or third Thursday). Perfect pre- or post-ride or during a quick rest stop, occasionally a little too crumbly to eat while rolling. Sometimes I put them in with my lunch.
Image of three granola bars on a plate. The bars are made of oatmeal, chopped dried apricots and cherries, and flaked coconut.
The easiest recipe I've found comes from pinkleo on Craftster. I'm sorry it isn't vegan. Suggestions for vegan granola bars are welcome in the comments. In an honest estimate, this recipe takes me less than ten minutes to measure and mix everything. Add a few minutes for pressing it into the pan and leave it in the oven for a bit while you go clean your bike or something. Here's an adapted version:
- 2-1/2 cups oatmeal (NOT instant!)
- 3-4 cups mix-ins
- Spice (for example, 1 tsp cinnamon)
- 1-14 fl.oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- nonstick cooking spray and/or parchment paper for pan
What are the mix-ins? Dried fruit, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, chocolate chips...
I like a balance of
- 1-2 cups dried fruit
- 1 cup nuts
- 1 cup shredded coconut, if using only 1 cup of dried fruit
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or wheat germ (truth: I usually forget to add these until I'm already cleaning the kitchen)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a 9X13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl mix together oatmeal, mix-ins, and spice. Stir in vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. Use the back of a spoon or your clean fingers to firmly press the mixture into the 9x13 pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until bars have just started to brown on the edges (err on the side of underbaked--they will be a little more crumbly but not burnt). It is easiest to cut these while they are still warm.
The bulk section is your friend for bars like these. It's a good place to pick up just what you need, especially for a new ingredient or something you don't want a whole jar of. This recipe is very flexible, so you can keep the ingredient list very short if you want. My recent combinations are
--mixed nuts, raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, coconut, and cinnamon
--slivered almonds, apricots, cranberries, cherries, and chocolate chips
--mixed nuts, apricots, cherries, coconut, and chocolate chips
Up next? Maybe a GORP combination. Good old-fashioned raisins and peanuts (but I'll probably add cinnamon and chocolate chips). Pinkleo shares additional suggestions at the end of her post as well.
Some questions for all of you:
--What would you put in your granola bars?
--What should I do with my empty oatmeal canisters?!