Eating on a road trip is like eating at a sports game — your healthy-eating choices are limited at best. Sure, comfort food from a hole-in-the-wall diner sounds amazing but riding in the car after eating a gut-bomb is asking for a food coma. So, before I hit the road I make these no-bake Blueberry Almond Granola Bars. They're easy to make, loaded with good-for-me ingredients, satisfies both the sweet and savory tooth, and have tons of nutty protein. Best of all, they haven't been sitting on a gas station shelf for six months.
or peanut butter
or honey or Maple syrup
(or old-fashioned rolled oats pulsed in a food processor 4 to 5 times)
about 6 dates
Prepare a small rimmed baking sheet (about 13-inch-by-9-inch) or a one quarter sheet pan by brushing with a neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, or coconut) or spaying with a nonstick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang to help remove the bars, and spray the paper again.
Combine the nut butter and brown rice syrup in a food processor fitted with a dough blade or in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the remaining ingredients, except the sea salt, in a second large bowl and using clean hands, thoroughly mix and separate dried fruit pieces until thoroughly mixed. Pulse or mix the nut butter mixture on low-speed until it is just evenly combined, about 15 seconds or 10 (1 second) pulses. Add the bowl of dry ingredients and pulse or mix until the mixture is well combined, about 30 seconds or 30 (1 second) pulses (the mixture should come together as one ball and the nut butter mixture should be evenly distributed).
Bars can also be mixed by hand but they will be difficult to mix so you'll need some elbow grease!
Transfer the granola bar mixture to the prepared pan (it should be holding together as one ball at this point, if not, add a spoon of syrup or water and mix it a few more times to help it come together). Spray your fingers with nonstick spray or coat in neutral oil and pressing the mixture down firmly so that it fits in an even layer into the pan. Coat the bottom of a measuring cup with oil then press the mixture down so it is compact (it should resemble a peanut butter Clif Bar at this point). Sprinkle with a large pinch of sea salt, top with another sheet of parchment paper, and using a small rolling pin or a can roll out the bars to an even layer.
Let granola bar set in the pan for at least one hour before unmolding and cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment paper and seal with a sticker or twine. Store at room temperature (or in the refrigerator or freezer if it's particularly hot) until ready to use — they'll last up to one week.
If it is a particularly hot day, you're going to want to let the granola bars set up in the refrigerator or freezer.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp