We eat a lot of cereal bars in my house. They are just easy – school snack, after school snack, Big Brother wakes up at five a.m. on Saturday and wants breakfast. Here have a cereal bar and a banana and let Mama sleep for another couple hours.
They are an easy snack and I probably won’t be giving them up anytime soon. However, I am also aware that they are a processed food. I mean heck, the first ingredient is strawberry flavored filling and next to it in parenthesis it lists out sugar, glycerin, corn syrup. So yeah, I’m aware they are not the healthiest choice.
Back in July, I was given an assignment by one of the magazines I write for to come up with sweet treats for back to school. I thought about the snacks my kids like to eat and cereal bars was at the top of the list. So I thought, what the heck? Let’s see if I can make homemade version.
These homemade cereal bars came together surprisingly easy and were much more filling than the store-bought variety. In fact, The Husband ate a few bars as a pre-workout breakfast and he commented that they took the edge off his hunger without making him feel so full right before he hit the gym.
The only downside to the homemade version, they are a bit more crumbly than store bought bars. I would strongly recommend, once you cut them into bars, that you allow them to sit in the refrigerator for several hours to firm up. After that, they hold their shape fairly well. However, if you are looking for something to take in the car during a road trip or as a quick snack in between after-school activities, you’ll want to keep your Dirt Devil handy. There will be crumbs!
Plus side to making my own cereal bars — the flavors are a lot more fresh! I didn’t realize how bland store bought bars were until I tried homemade. I can taste the cinnamon. The raisins are real raisins (as opposed to raisin-flavored). The oatmeal is nutty. I can pronounce all the ingredients that went into them.
- 1 bag (2 ounces) dried apples
- ¾ raisins
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons white granulated sugar
- 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup cold, unsalted butter, chopped into ½-inch cubes
- 2-4 tablespoons cold water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place apples in a medium mixing bowl. Pour hot water over them and allow them to sit for 10 minutes until they are rehydrated. Drain apples and coarsely chop. Combine apples with raisins, cinnamon and sugar. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Pulse oats in a food processor until they are fine. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Stir with an electric mixer until ingredients are evenly incorporated. With the mixer running, slowly add the water just until the dough comes together and leaves the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half.
- Layer the bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper. Spray the foil or parchment paper with cooking spray.
- Press half of the dough mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread the apple raisin mixture evenly over the top. Gently press the remaining dough over the apple raising mixture.
- Bake for 45 minutes until the bars are golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting. If the bars are still a little crumbly, chilling them in the refrigerator will help them firm up.