my fitness routine // easy healthy granola bars

omething I've wanted to do for a while is try my hand at making my own granola bars.  I liked the idea of being able to customize what was in them and play around with different ingredients to make them more healthy, or more sweet.  They're super nice because you can make a bunch and keep them in a tupperware bin in the fridge or freezer and pull one out for breakfast, or throw one in your lunchbag.  It's a great quick snack to munch on and they don't take very long to make either!

The last couple months I've been trying to get back to a more healthy lifestyle.  I let myself get super lazy during the summer months, both with exercise and with eating, so I'm trying to shift my focus again towards more healthy living.  I got an 8 week gym membership through Groupon which I plan on activating in January after all the craziness and frequent travel of the holidays dies down.  For now I've been doing Insanity at home, trying to teach my body how to be active again.   For some reason it's way easier for me to be mindful of my eating and workout routine during the colder months, those summer months just make me want to laze around and eat/drink all of the things.  Also, it's just way too hot without A/C to want to do a workout and most people in the PNW don't have A/C, including us.  Hot Yoga is horrible (sorry hot yoga fans, I just can't), but Hot Insanity?  That sounds like death.

Anyway,  I'm trying to make a shift back towards a more healthy life and I love being able to make my own granola bars instead of buying ones that inevitably are packed with sugar or unnatural flavors.  These ones are a little less healthy because I added a bit of chocolate, but omit the chocolate and they're a lot more fit-friendly.

(Recipe adapted from MinimalistBaker)
2 cups packed dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool)
1/2 cup honey 
1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, chopped
1 cup banana chips, chopped
3 cups rolled oats, baked
2 cups chocolate chips, melted

1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain and forms into a "dough" like, balled up consistency. 

2. Toast your oats in a 350 degree oven for 15-ish minutes or until slightly golden brown. Place oats, almonds and dates in a bowl - set aside.

3. Melt chocolate chips, pour into a 9x13 dish lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.  Place in the refrigerator for a couple minutes.

4. Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.

5. Once thoroughly mixed, press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.

6. Remove bars from pan and chop into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn't necessary.