Chewy Homemade Granola Bars with Chocolate, Cranberries + Pistachios

These chewy homemade granola bars are no-bake and loaded with chocolate, cranberries and pistachios. Easy and fantastic!
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Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bars | Foodess

Well that was a longer break than I intended to take.

It started out as forced relaxation - i.e. terrible, terrible internet conditions. An internet stick thingy that plugged into my laptop and begrudgingly loaded pages a photo at a time, so slowly that my computer was asleep before I could even find out what happened to the kitten who got stuck upside down between the sofa and the wall. And of course, no wifi meant no iPhone use.

But it was a good thing - sometimes getting unplugged is just exactly what you need to refresh and reboot.

Then we had an insane return itinerary that added up to a staggering 40+ hours of travel from our front door in India to our front door in Vancouver.

Have you ever flown with a toddler?

If you have, then that's all I have to say.

Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bars | Foodess

If you haven't... well, you'll just have to trust me that this past week of doing absolutely nothing but having a glass of wine in a bubble bath while reading mind-numbing Sophie Kinsella novels was wholly merited.

To be fair, I fell sick the second I landed and really couldn't do much more than the above. And if I'm being truthful, it was cold meds and peppermint tea in the bath, but wine sounds way more appealing.

Anyway, here we are, January 6th, and I may have missed the timeline on new years' posts, but I'm going for it anyway because I've had a lot of time to reflect. And I really feel like this "new year" is a turned page on more than just 365 days.

I tend to divide my life up into chunks depending on what is happening - like in university, a "year" was September - August. Well I feel like this extended break I took was the culmination of the year and a half since Theo was born.

I went back to work when he was just six weeks old. Like so many women, I have been struggling to find myself in my new identity - you know, figure out who I am as a mother and an individual at the same time (which felt an awful lot like trying to pat my head while rubbing my tummy). Trying to strike the right balance between family and career, so that I was giving enough to both. Changing my mind between leaning in and leaning out so often that I felt like I was doing the f*$&ing hokey pokey, ha.

Anyway, I realized as I snuggled guilt-free under my covers one day this week while Theo was napping that I finally feel... comfortable. Like myself again. Not anxious, and not like I'm about to be spliced from being pulled in two directions.

Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bars | Foodess

A lot of that has to do with the passage of time - I spent most of Theo's first year with a baseline nervousness. Just keeping him breathing and fed felt like a huge task when he was really little. Every stuffy nose was stressful, and every fever was a crisis. Sleeping through the night and getting him to take naps were enormous daily stresses. I giggle looking back at that, but it was hard. An underlying anxiety makes everything else feel more difficult. If you're a new mom, trust me, it gets easier, and you will feel normal again. (And meanwhile I'm sending you big, squeezy, bum-wiggling hugs of support!)

Career-wise, after a busy, productive year, I've come to trust that things won't explode in my face if I'm not on all the time. I've made the decision to take things at an easy pace during the years when I've got little ones at home, rather than trying to plow forward. And I've learned to shrug things off. Not let little things stress me out.

Being present in the current moment, whether work or baby, makes a huge difference to feeling balanced. I've stopped innocently checking my email while Theo is momentarily distracted.

Plus I turned thirty, which is a number with magical powers.

I'm no longer trying to lean so much in either direction. I think I found my footing just by letting myself relax into where I am currently, and giving my full attention to whatever I'm doing in the moment. So I'm entering 2015 feeling happy and relaxed, with not a single resolution other than to take life with a lightheartedness, and to enjoy it.

Oh, and p.s.: Granola Bars. Ha! They're no-bake, super chewy, and loaded with deliciousness - salty roasted pistachios, good quality dark chocolate, tart cranberries. Bound together with brown rice syrup and packed with toothsome oats and crispy rice cereal. I freeze them for grab-and-go snacks.

Happy New Year!

  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 18 barsServings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats (not quick or instant)
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, shelled
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup or honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 oz (125 grams) coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Preparation

  1. Combine the oats, rice cereal, cranberries and pistachios in a large bowl; set aside.

  2. Melt butter, brown rice syrup, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a rapid boil, and cook 1-2 minutes, until mixture thickens. Stir in vanilla extract (careful, it will sputter).

  3. Pour hot syrup over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes, then stir in chopped chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, press mixture firmly into a parchment-lined (or greased) 8" square baking pan (or you can use a piece of parchment paper laid on top to help you really press it down without sticking to your fingers). Transfer to freezer for 10 minutes until set, then cut into 18 bars.

  4. Store granola bars in sealed container up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.