Created by Katie Morford of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook this recipe hits all the right sensory buttons: chewy, chocolatey, nutty, crunchy and a little salty. We love that the bars are effectively a “no bake” bar, except for the fact that the oats get lightly browned in the oven before the mixing begins, and it’s about 100 calories a pop. Katie tells us that what’s important in the recipe is to 1) get the syrup good and hot before adding it to the cereal; 2) stir it together very quickly so that the syrup coats the dry bits before it starts to cool; and 3) press the mixture very firmly into the pan so the bars hold together well. Read on for the full ingredients and method!

A special note from Katie: Eschewing the corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and marshmallows that are typical of bars, the recipe relies largely on organic brown rice syrup for the “glue” to hold it all together. This mild-tasting, viscous sweetener is available in many specialty stores, organic markets such as Whole Foods, and the “health food” section of some supermarkets.

Makes 25 bars

Ingredients:
1 cup whole oats
3 cups Cheerios or similar oat cereal
1/2 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts
1/3 cup raisins
Oil for greasing the pan
1/2 cup organic brown rice syrup
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup creamy, no-sugar added peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread oats in the bottom of a 9×9-inch baking pan and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

2. While the oats are browning, put the Cheerios, chocolate chips, peanuts, and raisins into a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Pour the brown rice syrup, brown sugar, and peanut butter into a small, heavy pot and warm over medium heat to dissolve the sugar and melt the ingredients together into a thin, smooth syrup, stirring occasionally. Once the ingredients are melted, stir in the vanilla.
When the oats are done, remove from oven and add to the bowl with the Cheerios. Mix well.

4. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of that same baking pan. Drizzle the hot syrup over the cereal mixture and use a wooden spoon to quickly work the ingredients together so it is one, uniform lump, with no dry bits left out.

5. Put it immediately into the greased baking pan and use the spoon to press it down very firmly, filling out the entire pan. Once the mixture has cooled enough to touch, use your hands to press down on the mixture further until it is one solid, uniform block.

6. Leave it to cool for 30 minutes. Then, invert the bars onto a cutting board, turn it right- side up, and cut it into 25 bars.

Store in an air-tight container.
Adapted from the Cheerios Banana Nut Energy Bar recipe

Have you tried Katie’s recipe? Tell us your thoughts below!

Katie Sullivan Morford is a mom, food writer and registered dietitian.  You can find her family-friendly recipes and kitchen wisdom at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook.