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Almond Fig Granola Bars

Back in the day, I posted about Nigella's granola bars.  My friend Jordan made them and commented, "I don't know how else to say it--they just tasted healthy." Some of you know Jordan, and you know that she is the absolute PICTURE of diplomacy. She never has a bad thing to say about anyone.  So her comment is basically the equivalent of throwing the whole damn batch in the garbage and cussing me out.

Jordan and I met for lunch at Oddfellows today--she's home from NYC on holiday break.  And yes, I'm definitely linking to Oddfellows, still one of my favorite places and spaces ever.  To make up for last spring's healthy disaster, I brought her some of these.  I cannot stop eating them.

Every morning, Loretta wakes up earlier than the rest of us, wanders into our room with binky and Hug (her stuffed lamb, of course!) and says, "Mom, can I have a 'nola bar?"  I buy the Quaker 60-packs at Costco.  They taste like sweetened sawdust. She eats them happily in front of Sesame Street, and every night I sweep up the crumbs from under the couch.  These are not those. Or the disappointing curse-Sarah-under-your-breath ones.

I found the recipe in the magazine Eating Well, which was hanging around the gym.  By the time I was done with my workout, I had decided to stop at the store on the way home to buy cereal and almond butter.  And I ripped the recipe out of the magazine, hoping everyone's iPods were too loud to notice.

I've been driving a lot for work lately, and these solve a lot of problems for me.  Full of fiber; sticky and just-sweet-enough; infinitely portable while still being a little soft; and able to be found with one hand while I'm talking on the phone (don't tell the Bluetooth cops).

And welcome home, Jordan.  Seattle and this Seattle girl have missed you like crazy.

Almond Fig Granola Bars
Adapted from Eating Well.  They call for currants and dried apricots--I used dried cranberries and figs instead.  I cannot get enough of dried figs these days.   But you can certainly play around with what you add.  These aren't low-cal, by any means.  Brown sugar, honey, almond butter.  But they'll keep you full and happy so you don't gorge on cheese right when you walk in the door.  I took one in my pocket the other morning, walking in the early morning rain down to the train station.  It made my dreary morning a lot brighter.  If you like them firm, store them in the fridge.  I like them more yielding, so store them in a canister on the counter.

1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1 Tb. flaxseeds or ground flaxmeal
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1 c. unsweetened whole-grain puffed cereal (like Kashi)
1/3 c. dried cranberries
2/3 c. dried figs, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. creamy almond butter
1/4 c. turbinado or brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Lightly oil an 8"square pan.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toast until everything is lightly browned and fragrant, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add cereal, cranberries, and figs, toss to combine.

Combine almond butter, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt in small saucepan.  Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles slightly, 2-5 minutes.

Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until no dry spots remain. Transfer to the prepared pan.  Lightly oil your hands and press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer.  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.  Cut into bars--whatever size is most practical for you.

Reader Comments (17)

So funny! Jordan and I were *just* talking about those bars and how I made them with sweetened condensed milk. So glad that she's got a substitute!

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpds

Oh great! Thanks Sarah. I feel like you have telepathic abilities, because typically what I'm in the mood for and start scrounging my cookbooks or where ever else for a recipe...you come through. Granola bars were on my mind and I will be making them and mixing up the dried fruit arena too:)

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterevangitality

Funny about Jordan, etc.! Perfect! Can't wait to try them. Just a bit ago I ate the Lårabar cashew date bar you gave me in my studio care package. Was just right for my hunger at the moment. It definitely tasted healthy...looking for the ingredient list...it only contains cashews & dates! I was just telling HM that now that I have my beloved kettle out here (thank you!) and my little snack/tea/coffee station, I need to stock it up with snacks (esp for when she comes out here with me on a studio date). Yay! I will make these for just that purpose!

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Cox

and these are wonderful! the sampling made me a true believer. (actually munching as i type!) xo

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjordan

This looks amazing! I have to say, your site has quickly become one of my faves! I've printed off quite a few of your recipes and am anxious to try them. I'm going to make the potato taco salad for dinner tomorrow night. Keep the recipes coming!

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa W.

I agree with Lisa! IPOL is where I go first!

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Yup. I'm making these this weekend. Do you think natural PB would sub for the almond butter? Looks awesome, thanks!

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth R&V

These look so good. I love homemade granola bars. I just posted a recipe that my husband loves, but I don't want him to get tired of the same thing every day, so these are next on my list! Thanks :)

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermegan

PB would totally work. Hi Beth :)

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

Thanks, Lisa! Nice to have you here.

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

Those look terrific Sarah! I have to admit, I am surprised you like Oddfellows. I went with a friend recently and was totally underwhelmed by the veg choices. My $12 hummus platter was so small and unsatisfying that I had to get a snack immediately afterward. But I do LOVE the space!

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I agree, Dana. I've never been thrilled about the food. I mostly get coffee and work there because of all the light pouring in through the windows and the amazingly friendly staff. Delicious baked goods, too.

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

I sneaked a taste (and then a second and a third) of the ones you gave to Jordan last night. Really good balance of crunch and chewiness and sweet but not too sweet.

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersue

The potato taco salad is AWESOME! I made it for a friend one night and we were yummin all the way through dinner!

January 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I love your blog! These almond fig granola bars look good and easy/simple to make. You might really like(for an alternative) Bellingham Community Food Coop's "Squirrel Bars". They sell them for $9.99 /lb in their store and I have been lucky to have owned the recipe for years, however they now have shared and posted the recipe on their web site. Very easy, full of nuts and dried fruit(apricots, craisins etc) and made with brown rice syrup as the "glue". Check them out I think you might like them :-)

January 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeslee

Hi Leslee! I adore the Bellingham Coop. I'll have to try the Squirrel Bars.

January 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersarahmk

Yum! I just made these for swim lessons tomorrow and they are so worth turning a hot oven on in 85 degree weather. I also made the cabbage salad with parmesan cheese and lemon for our BBQ tonight. I ate my weight in cabbage. It was so good. Your recipes are so great Sarah because I almost always have most if not all the ingredients. Simple and delicious. Up next, your squash and kale galette. I'm a little nervous about it. Can you make the dough the night before and keep it in the fridge?

July 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn Gallucci

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