Rebecca of Displaced Housewife created a fantastic Soft and Chewy Granola Bar recipe highlighting California Prunes. These freezer-friendly after-school snack or post-dinner dessert are perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth. Mixing, baking and dipping these Gluten Free Granola Bars served as a fun activity for the whole family to participate in. These chewy homemade granola bars are easily customizable to use what you have on hand and full of antioxidants, healthy fats and protein!
The flavor complexity and nutritional superiority of the versatile California Prune can lend itself to endless applications around your kitchen. Stock your pantry with California Prunes to enhance everyday recipes with antioxidants and fiber that help with blood sugar regulation and digestion!
These granola bars are loaded with chopped California Prunes making them chewy and delightful.
This post was made in partnership with California Prunes as we love and eat prunes regularly in our home.
OK, back to these delicious gluten free, dairy free granola bars! While California Prunes are powerhouses, they are also delicious. Especially with a layer of dark chocolate over top and a sprinkle of sea salt!
Check out the full recipe for these homemade gluten free granola bars below, I’ve detailed the changes I made to Rebecca’s recipe using my pantry staples and preferences!
I used Gluten Free rolled oats for both the filling and for the oat flour. I followed the directions to make my own oat flour in the Gluten Free Granola Bars recipe, and it was so easy.
These added the perfect crunch. I was going to use hazelnuts which would add lovely flavor as well, but realized that my 18 month old would be eating these and sliced almonds are the perfect texture for her to safely consume.
I added about 50% more prunes than the original recipe because I am not a huge coconut person, so I did more prunes, less coconut. The beauty of the recipe is that you can do this, and as Rebecca mentions,
“When making substitutions, consider the balance of wet to dry ingredients. Right now, it’s the perfect balance to make the bars stick together. Add additional ingredients cautiously and in small quantities, unless they are used as a 1:1 substitution.”
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Love that this added some more healthy fats and texture to the bars.
Puffed Grains or Rice Cereal
I had cocoa flavored puffed rice crispies, and this worked beautifully. It was such a strong selling point for both kids that this was included, and lended to the overall excitement of mixing and making this recipe.
I had 70% dark chocolate gems that are sweetened with only coconut sugar. These chocolates are also vegan. Using vegan chocolate and maple syrup as the sweetener makes these Gluten Free Granola Bars dairy free as well. They are large, so I chopped them finely into more of a chocolate shaving, and it worked very well for the inside mixture. I used the gems as well to melt for the coating.
I love the texture they add as well as the healthy fiber, too!
Refined coconut oil is the perfect addition to help the chocolate melt easily and stay liquid even after it cools slightly without TOO much coconut flavor.
I know, it’s weird – but I loved the note in the original recipe to include protein. I LOVE giving my kids sweet, delicious treats like these and it makes me every happier to have the macronutrient balance represented with protein, carbs and healthy fats all present. I added two scoops of the powder to the binder mixture and there is no flavor difference, no consistency difference – just a little protein punch.
Real Maple Syrup
This was a perfect sweetener to bind the bars and really enhance the flavor of all the nuts, seeds, and oats. It’s perfect and I would highly recommend this over honey for a subtle sweet that isn’t too intense flavor wise since everything is relatively muted. It perfectly compliments the prunes.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I agree with the Displaced Housewife on this entirely – accept no substitutes. High quality healthy fat, you can’t go wrong.
These do not taste like banana. They are sweetened more with the prunes, and the maple syrup but banana is a genius binder that Rebecca created, and it really does ‘glue’ the magic together in harmony without overpowering any of the parts. Banana is a perfect substitute for egg which is often used as a binder in homemade gluten free granola bars.
I love cinnamon, and I appreciate how simply these are seasoned with just cinnamon and vanilla. It makes it an easy recipe to whip up, and classic in flavor.
Flakey Sea Salt
Never underestimate the power of a little salty sprinkle over something sweet. It’s about balance!
Are Homemade Granola Bars Gluten Free?
These are gluten free if you use certified gluten free oats. While oats generally are gluten free and do not contain gluten ingredients, many are processed in facilities with gluten containing grains and cross contamination is common. Many store bought brands such as Chewy Granola Bars are not gluten free. Homemade Gluten Free Granola Bars are SO easy, there is no reason not to go for it!
How Do You Store Chocolate Covered Granola Bars?
This recipe makes 36 ‘mini’ sized granola bars. Unless you have a big gathering, I’d recommend only covering ½ of the bars with chocolate and keeping them in an airtight container in the fridge with parchment or wax paper between layers for up to days. Keep the granola bars that aren’t yet covered in chocolate in the freezer for up to 90 days.
Can You Freeze Granola Bars?
YES! You can keep the granola bars (not covered in chocolate) in the freezer. Let them freeze on a sheet pan and then store in a zip top bag in the freezer for up to three months.
Are Homemade Granola Bars Healthy?
These are chock full of fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats and protein, so YES! These granola bars are healthy, homemade, gluten free, and vegan. Homemade Granola Bars are as healthy as you want them to be because as long as you’re keeping the ratio of wet to dry components and using a sufficient binder, you can make them with any kind of pantry ingredients you prefer.
Are Granola Bars Full of Sugar?
This recipe has absolutely no refined sugar, and is sweetened with your preferred natural sweetener: maple syrup or honey which both work great. You can reduce the amount of sweetener you use as well. Additionally, banana serves to bind and sweeten these bars, and the California Prunes lend sweetness and depth.
How Do You Make Oat Flour? To make your own oat flour simply blend rolled oats in your high powered blender. For the ½ cup oat flour you’ll need for this recipe, simply blend ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of the same rolled oats you’re using for the bars and blend until a fine flour results.
Below are the components I used in my Homemade Gluten-Free Granola Bars inspired by this Soft and Chewy Granola Bar recipe. Check out the original recipe too, and make some soon! Tag both @cookbycolor AND @displacedhousewife on Instagram when you make these, so both Rebecca and I can see your creation!
For the Bars:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds (substitute your preferred nuts, chopped)
1/2 cup oat flour (see notes to make it yourself)
1/2 cup California prunes, finely chopped (about 12 prunes)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup cocoa puffed rice (substitute certified GF puffed rice or quinoa)
1/4 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup ripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 scoops collagen peptides, any brand
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
Chocolate Dip: (will generously coat all the bars, feel free to adjust as needed)
1 ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon refined coconut oil
Sea salt flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a ¼ sheet pan, or baking pan with parchment paper, and affix chip clips to the paper hanging over the sides to keep it in place. (Be sure to remove the clips before you bake!)
Add the rolled oats, nuts, California prunes, shredded coconut, puffed grains or rice cereal, chopped chocolate and chia seeds all into a large mixing bowl. Mix the contents well, breaking up the sticky prunes so they are evenly distributed for the chewiest bars.
Make the oat flour in a high speed blender and ensure you’ve gotten ½ cup of fine oat flour. Add the maple syrup, olive oil, vanilla, mashed banana, collagen peptides, cinnamon and salt to the blender. Blend until smooth.
Add the blended mixture into the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until the granola is well coated.
Pour the granola mixture into the parchment lined pan, and press firmly into place so you have an even layer that’s fully compacted. I used a ¼ sheet pan and my mixture was about ⅓ inch thick.
Bake the granola for approximately 25 – 30 minutes until the edges are golden. The amount of time really varies on the thickness of the bar, so check at 25 minutes and leave it longer as needed.
Let the granola bars cool entirely before covering with foil and sticking in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours, but overnight works well.
Using a small saucepan, start to melt the coconut oil over low heat, and add in the chocolate. Stir nearly constantly to ensure the coconut oil and chocolate mix and warms to melt completely. Once it’s melted, remove from the heat.
Put a cooling rack above a sheet of parchment paper for the freshly dipped chocolate granola bars to set.
Remove the frozen bars from the pan to a large cutting board. I made 36 ‘mini’ gluten free granola bars, but you can cut into any size you’d prefer. Make slow and distinct cuts through the frozen bars with your sharpest knife.
Using a wide spatula or two forks, dip the granola bars into the melted and slightly cooled chocolate one by one. You can coat the bars entirely in chocolate, or half dipped so the beautiful chewy bar is partially exposed. Tap the excess chocolate off, and place it on the rack. To make them look fancy you can coat a spoon in chocolate and drizzle it over the top for a little flair.
After the chocolate has set fully, place the bars in a sealed container in the fridge. If you’re layering them, be sure to place parchment or wax paper in between so they stay looking beautiful. They last 10 days in the fridge.
Keywords: Homemade Bar, Gluten Free Granola Bar, Healthy Snack, Homemade bars, Vegan Bar