Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Summer for some means pool time, for others it means vacation time. For my family, summer has always meant lots of car time. Every year as a child my parents packed up our green mini van and my family would drive, often for several days, for a little family vacation, and a new adventure. I have fond memories of these drives- playing cards, getting ice cream in the late afternoon, and reading until I fell asleep.

One thing I clearly remember is my mother packing our own food. My mom always used to make trail mix, or bring apples and pretzels- things to keep my younger brother and I from begging for candy bars at each gas station. I guess that tradition rubbed off on me some, because every time I prepared for a car trip this summer, I found myself looking through recipes for car snacks. This delicious recipe is one of my new car time favorites. These granola bars are filling, healthy, won’t melt or fall apart on you, and are an excellent way to snack. I know pumpkin seems early for late summer, but the recipe looked so delicious I couldn’t resist myself! Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare an 8 inch square baking pan by spraying lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, spices, and salt- whisking until completely blended.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, combine the brown sugar with the wet ingredients- pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the oat mixture, stirring until the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
  6. Press the batter into the prepared pan- using a spatula to evenly spread the mixture- and bake for 30- 35 minutes. The tops of the bars should be golden brown, and set in the middle.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars using a sharp knife.

Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 10-12 granola bars
  • Don’t under cook these bars! The pumpkin can make them very moist, so cook them the full time for best results!
  • To make vegan: substitute vegan chocolate chips for the regular chocolate chips, and if desired try molasses instead of honey! I have not tried this substitution but imagine it would work well.
  • To make gluten free: use gluten-free, non-contaminated oats
  • Source: Two Peas & their Pod