I have a family brimming with athletes; there are triathaloning uncles, cyclist aunts, a few who even go to iron man extremes, there are high jumping cousins, long distance winning boys and record setting girls. This weekend is the Pittsburgh Marathon, where over 30, 000 people will race through our beautiful city, up hills, over bridges and across the three rivers. Paul and I, along with our hounds, will be there to cheer on my sister as she continues the family tradition of athleticism and runs the half-marathon! In the spirit of pre-race carb loading, (and middle of the race snacking for the loyal fans), we offer you these delicious dark chocolate-pretzel granola bars. These granola bars are infinitely more delicious and healthy then their store-bought peers. I like to make a big batch of granola bars and freeze them individually wrapped. So while others race, jump, bike and swim, we will be happily cheering and noshing on these tasty bars!
To make these bars extra delicious we use a locally made secret ingredient: honey puffed spelt from our friends at Clarion River Organics. These sweet and smokey puffs are my favorite morning cereal. I have been known to buy bags of them by the dozen for fear of running out. I dipped into my stockpile for these bars, and it was well worth it!
Yield: 8-10 bars
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (sweetened or natural, whichever you prefer)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cups puffed rice cereal (I used honey puffed spelt)
- 3/4 cups roughly chopped pretzels, about quarter sized
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Spread oats and pecans on a baking tray and roast until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together butter, sugar, maple syrup and peanut butter. Once mixture is warmed through and combined, remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together oats, pecans, puffed rice cereal, pretzels and chocolate chips. Add the warm peanut butter mixture and stir to coat everything.
- Transfer the mixture into a foil lined 9 x 9 baking pan. Lay a piece of oiled parchment or foil on top of the bars and pat down firmly.
- Freeze for 20-30 minutes (or allow to cool at room temperature an hour). Cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the freezer individually wrapped for maximum convenience and shelf life.