Confession #142: I’m a snacker… Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars

by alexandra

Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars - Healthy and filling fruit and nuts bars with an almond-y twist.  | brighteyedbaker.com

 As much as I loooove a good sandwich, one that’s warm and toasty and packed with yummy fillings, I rarely ever have one because I’m just not a big lunch eater. My list of meal priorities goes something like: breakfast, dinner/dessert (actually dessert might come before dinner), and then… lunch. At best, lunch for me usually means some granola or a smoothie. If I’m not armed with some enticing & healthy snack foods around the house, I find myself opening cabinet, refrigerator, and freezer doors and staring at the shelves before resigning myself to the fact that there’s nothing I want to eat.

Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars - Healthy and filling fruit and nuts bars with an almond-y twist.  | brighteyedbaker.com

I’ve been trying to eat a little healthier lately, so I made these bars with breakfast in mind, but they were just SO FREAKIN’ GOOD that I couldn’t help snack on a bite or two (or more) throughout the day. I loved opening the fridge and knowing that there was something healthy, filling, and worthy of my cravings waiting for me inside. Even after making three batches of these bars for recipe testing, I wasn’t even close to being bored of them. In fact, it was one of the rare times when everyone in our house was devouring the same thing, and they’re healthy. BAM.

Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars - Healthy and filling fruit and nuts bars with an almond-y twist.  | brighteyedbaker.com

The bars are somewhere in the middle of crunchy and chewy, and they’re like a texture nirvana with the combination of toasted whole almonds, little oat bits, and lots of dried fruit. The tangy-sweet apricots and tart-but-sweet cranberries make every bite explode with flavor, and just a small amount of agave syrup makes the bars perfectly sweet. The homemade almond butter mixed with all those extra almonds and a touch of almond extract adds richness and nuttiness to the taste, and just like in these scones, the apricots and almonds make a dream team.

Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars - Healthy and filling fruit and nuts bars with an almond-y twist.  | brighteyedbaker.com

I could not get enough of how good these bars were, and the fact that they’re way healthier than any packaged granola bars you can buy and about 1,000 times more delicious is just the icing on the cake. They’re even no-nuts picky-eater approved – definitely can’t go wrong!

Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars

12 bars

Cranberry-Apricot Almond Butter Granola Bars

These healthy, no-bake granola bars are bursting with flavor from tart dried cranberries and tangy dried apricots. Toasted almonds and subtly sweet almond butter and a rich, nutty taste.

Ingredients

  • 7 1/8 ounces (2 1/2 cups) rolled oats*
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) whole almonds, toasted
  • 3 3/4 ounces (3/4 cup) dried apricots, chopped**
  • 3 1/8 ounces (3/4 cup) dried cranberries**
  • 1/4 teaspoon semi-coarse sea salt
  • 4 3/8 ounces (1/3 cup) agave syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 3/4 ounces (3/4 cup) almond butter***

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and an 8" square pan with foil. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Spread oats and almonds out on the prepared baking sheet, without letting them get mixed together. Toast in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Transfer oats to a food processor and pulse until finer in texture, similar to quick-cooking oats.
  4. Combine oats, almonds, apricots, cranberries, and salt in a large bowl and toss together to evenly combine.
  5. Place agave syrup in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, monitoring temperature with a reliable thermometer, until the temperature reaches 255ºF. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
  6. Spoon almond butter by dollops over the oat mixture and drizzle the agave evenly on top. Stir everything together well until all of the dry ingredients are evenly coated by the almond butter and agave.
  7. Press mixture into the prepared square pan, compacting in very well so the mixture reaches all corners and sides in a tight, flat layer. (A wide, flat spatula works well for this.) Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate bars until firm, at least a few hours but preferably overnight.
  8. Slices into bars with a strong, sharp serrated knife. Store in an airtight container in the fridge to ensure the bars stay intact. Bars can also be wrapped individually in plastic wrap to make for easy grab-and-go access.

Notes

*While I haven't used quick-cooking oats in this recipe, they should work as well. If using them, skip the step of processing them in the food processor. Use gluten-free oats to make this recipe gluten-free.

**Using dried fruit with no sugar added will make these bars as healthy as possible.

***Almond butter may vary in consistency between homemade and store-bought. If using store-bought, you may need to microwave the almond butter slightly to thin out before adding to the other ingredients.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna @ Bashful Bao January 17, 2014

Ooooh, I love homemade granola bars, and your version sounds awesome! Yay for healthy snackage!!!
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alexandra January 17, 2014

Thanks Anna! Yes – healthy snackage is a must. :D

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Amy January 17, 2014

I’m right there with you — breakfast is my top priority, although dessert is usually tied with it… Not dinner. ;) I’ve been on a HUGE dried apricot kick lately (the ones at TJ’s are just so good!) that your granola bars would disappear in a single day with me around. No joke. They look fabulous!
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alexandra January 17, 2014

Very true. I think I just didn’t want to sound like a crazy person… breakfast IS tied with dessert. And dried apricots – always so yummy!
Thanks Amy!

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Tieghan Gerard January 17, 2014

These look amazingly perfect in every single way! I love homemade snacks!
Tieghan Gerard recently posted..Simple Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Buttercream.My Profile

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alexandra January 17, 2014

Thank you so much Tieghan!

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Katy January 18, 2014

These look like a healthy snack with the apricots, cranberries, and oats. I love oats so anything with oats in it is definitely making it into my recipe box. :) Thank you!
Katy recently posted..Jan 18, Baking FishMy Profile

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alexandra January 26, 2014

They’re so good and considering all the healthy ingredients packed in, it’s almost too good to be true!

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Helen @ Scrummy Lane January 18, 2014

I’m always looking for healthy work-time snacks and these look so tasty and healthy! Pinning it for later!
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alexandra January 26, 2014

Thanks Helen! Hope you give them a try; they’re awesome!

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Jess January 19, 2014

Wow, these look delicious! Love granola bars- these look super healthy :)
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alexandra January 26, 2014

Thanks Jess!

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Trisha January 21, 2014

Love the styling in this photo – so cute with the string! x
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alexandra January 25, 2014

Thanks so much Trisha! As I was styling these photos I was thinking I need to get my hands on some baker’s twine. :)

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Alyssa @ My Sequined Life January 25, 2014

Anything with triple almond ingredients (whole ones, butter, extract) is a MUST for me. What a perfectly satisfying and healthy snack – they look great!

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alexandra January 25, 2014

Agreed! I’m a huge sucker for almond extract especially. :) These bars are one of my favorite almond-involved recipes for sure!

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