Friday, February 25, 2011

Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola Bars (Vegan) Clone

The peanut butter addiction started quite innocently, I recall. 

In fact, like many addicts, I didn’t fall in love with it at first bite. My mother’s version of the classic pbj was a thin dressing of Skippy, a chaste smear of Smucker’s jelly (often strawberry with seeds—ick), on RYE bread.   

My passion was likely kindled by my infatuation with sweets that contained peanut butter—Reece’s Peanut Butter cups, Reece’s Pieces, and Häagen-Dazs peanut butter swirl ice cream. The latter was particularly intoxicating, because when you first began to eat from the pint container, the ice cream and peanut butter would be virtually impossible to hack away at with your spoon. Then it would grow slowly softer, and by the time you finished the entire container, the black-flecked vanilla ice cream and peanut butter would be pleasantly pliant to the tounge, blending salt and sweetness together in pleasant, oozy goodness.

I had all the signs of addiction for many years. 

Needing more and more of a high to get a fix? 

Witness the pints of Häagen-Dazs vanilla AND chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the refrigerator—plus a fondness for both kinds of peanut butter-flavored Girl Scout cookies. 
Lying about my level of consumption?  Even to myself? 

“I’ll just even off that jar, so the top is nice and smooth before I put it away.”  Even off the jar into oblivion, that is!   

Partaking in your fix upon getting out of bed?

 Have you ever stuffed cinnamon raisin toast with marmalade and peanut butter?  Or had a peanut butter ‘crunch’ chocolate doughnut for breakfast?

Fortunately, I’ve lost my taste for most of those treats. However, I do have a bit of fondness for one of the healthier incarnations of peanut butter snacks from my childhood— Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

Here’s a vegan, gluten-free clone I made that I like even better than the commercial variety—and it’s made from scratch so there are even fewer ingredients in it than in the original bars.


 3 / 4 cup of natural, crunchy peanut butter (I used Crazy Richard’s—choose a brand that’s very oily, to make sure the bars don’t turn out dry)
1 / 4 cup organic brown or turbinado sugar
6 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup (you can use honey, but the bars won’t be vegan)
2 melted tablespoons of Earth Balance butter substitute (again, you can use butter if veganism isn’t of concern)
3/ 4 cup rolled oats (not instant)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a square or round 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper
  2. Melt the peanut butter, sugar, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and butter in a pan over medium heat until fully incorporated. Add oats, stir, then remove from heat.  
  3. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Remove the mixture from the oven (Mixture will still be slightly soft). Score into bars after cooling for twenty minutes, while still pliant.  Break into bars and cool on a rack or plate.


  1. Are those the same bars I am thinking of that came in the green wrappers and were sold as 'health food' but basically peanut-y candy bars? (In a good way..) What about agave nectar as a sweetener? I don't think Lyle peddles his wares in Duck Country.

  2. @Mother Duck--Oh no! The deprivations of Duck Land with no Kewpie Mayo and Lyle's Golden Syrup! These were indeed the 'health food' candy that came in the attractive orange wrappers (the green was the Oats n' Honey flavor).

    Agave is a bit runnier than Lyle's but it might work--unfortunately, Lyle's has kind of a unique flavor of its own (less sweet than agave). It might be worth ordering, not just for baking, but also for making barbecue and other types of sauces when you need a substitute for honey.

  3. these bars make me starving !!! I want them !!!

  4. @clarinette--for something so easy, they were pretty spectacularly salty and sweet!

  5. Now why'd ya have to go and tell me about THESE! Of course I want 8 batches, right now!

  6. @Julia--I know--those things were addictive even in packaged form, and even more so when you can make them from scratch!