5-Minute, No-Bake Granola Bars

Every other week on Food52, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: A granola bar you don't have to bake, with a recipe that won't tie you down.

- Gena

Summer is quickly approaching, which means more picnics, hikes, outdoor walks, and other celebrations of the open air. This time of year, I like to maximize my time outside by stocking up on portable, nutritious snacks that allow me to be active without worrying about going inside to eat.

>>RELATED: Looking for more snacks to fill your backpack? Try Gena's White Bean Dip.

I'm a sucker for sweet, salty snack bars, but tasty vegan ones can be hard to find: many store-bought options are full of dubious ingredients, while recipes for homemade bars often contain honey (which isn't vegan!). For ages, I searched for a granola bar recipe that was vegan, easy to make, and -- most importantly -- adaptable. I've finally found the perfect mix of oats, nuts, dried fruit, and nut butter, and it has become a go-to in my busy student life.

Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? Let's call this "choose your own granola bar." My favorite thing about these bars is that you can add or subtract whatever you want. Not a fan of peanut butter? Use almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butter. Hate pumpkin seeds? Sunflower seeds or cashews will be great, too. Here are just a few ideas for how to modify the recipe:

  • Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
  • Substitute finely chopped dried figs or dates for the raisins.
  • Replace the pumpkin seeds with chopped pistachios, and replace raisins with 1/2 cup dried cranberries.
  • Replace the pumpkin seeds with chopped walnuts, and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the nut butter and sweetener mixture.
  • If you're feeling exotic, replace the raisins with goji berries.

No matter what, it's hard to go wrong with this combination. Enjoy it -- and all of the outdoor activities it will fuel you for!

>>RELATED: Love no-bake recipes? Try these easy Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites.

Five Minute, No-Bake Vegan Granola Bars

Serves 10 to 12

2 1/2 cups rolled or quick oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup peanut or almond butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup (adjust based on how well things stick together)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1. Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, and raisins in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together nut butter, sweetener, and sea salt. Pour into oat mixture, and mix well, till everything is sticky and combined. If it's too dry, add a bit more agave.

3. Press mixture into a shallow baking dish that you've lined with foil or saran wrap. Cover with more foil/saran, press well into the baking dish, and refrigerate for 4 hours. Cut into bar shapes, wrap, and keep refrigerated till ready to use. They will last two weeks in the fridge.

Save and print this recipe at Food52.

Photos by James Ransom

Tell us: What do you like to add to your granola bars? Share your comments below!

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