Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars {Gluten-Free Option}

Chewy peanut butter granola bars stuffed with healthy ingredients and naturally sweetened.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars {Gluten-Free Option} | www.themessybakerblog.com

I’ve been eating a lot of butter lately. I’m not talking sticks of butter straight out of the wrapper; although, I did eat butter straight from the butter bowl as a child.

My recent butter obsession has been in the form of chocolate brownie cookies, butterscotch chocolate caramel cookie cups, and loaded baked potatoes oozing with melted butter. While it has been a delicious few weeks, my thighs are beginning to rub together, which means it’s time to stop my butter-eating shenanigans and move on to healthier choices.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars {Gluten-Free Option} | www.themessybakerblog.com

I decided to ease my way back into healthy snacking by mixing a bunch oats, seeds, and almonds with creamy peanut butter and crisp rice cereal to create chewy chocolate chip peanut butter granola bars.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars {Gluten-Free Option} | www.themessybakerblog.com

I even added some chopped up prunes.

Whoa… What?

Yes, I said the word prune. Wait, don’t go running for the hills just yet!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars {Gluten-Free Option} | www.themessybakerblog.com

Most people associate prunes with prune juice and bowel movements. I won’t touch prune juice, but I happen to like prunes. Since I ran out of my usual go-to healthy sweetener, dates, I resorted to plump, juicy prunes.

When I mention the word prune to friends and family, what I get in return is a scrunched up face with puckered lips accompanied by an are-you-for-real look on their face. So, I stopped mentioning the word altogether. Instead, I started hiding prunes in various recipes. They were none the wiser.

Yes, I realize the method is a bit sneaky, but 

Prunes are just dried plums. So, if you like plums, you’ll probably like prunes. I chopped up several prunes to create a sticky base for the granola. The prunes serve three purposes: 1.) They help bind the mixture. 2.) They add natural sugars to the granola. 3.) They produce a chewy texture.

If you fear the prune, feel free to substitute dates.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars {Gluten-Free Option} | www.themessybakerblog.com

These healthy bars are chewy with a pop of crunch (thank you, crisp rice cereal). Oh, and peanut buttery… Oh so peanut buttery! The mini chocolate chips add subtle bursts of sweetness. I hid some flaxseed meal and chia seeds in the bar for a boost of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. One bar will fill you up and give you the energy needed to power through the day.

For a gluten-free granola bar, replace the old-fashioned oats with certified gluten-free old-fashioned oats, crisp rice cereal, and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Naturally sweetened, protein packed, full of fiber chewy peanut butter granola bars.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 cup crisp rice cereal

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

1 tablespoon chia seeds

7 prunes, finely chopped

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Evenly spread oats and almonds onto the prepared baking sheet. Toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Allow the oats to cool completely.

In a large bowl, add the oat and almond mixture, crisp rice cereal, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, and chopped prunes. Give the mixture a good stir to combine.

In a small bowl, add peanut butter and honey. Microwave for 45 seconds. Stir until the mixture is creamy and the honey and peanut butter are thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold the peanut butter mixture into the oat mixture until all of the ingredients are thoroughly coated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Line a 8-by-8-inch square pan with a piece of parchment so it overlaps on each side of the pan. Transfer the oat mixture to your prepared pan, pressing the mixture into the corners. Fold the overlapped parchment in so it covers the top of the granola. Firmly press down on the granola.

Refrigerate for at least an hour. Using a serrated knife, cut the granola into squares. Store in an airtight container.

For a gluten-free option: Replace old-fashioned oats with certified gluten-free old-fashioned oats, use a gluten-free crisp rice cereal, and certified gluten-free chocolate chips.

All images and text ©.
Whipping up one of my recipes? I wanna know about it! Snap a photo and tag your post with #onesweetmess on Twitter or Instagram. Seeing your creations come to life makes my day!