go-to granola bars

It’s over.

The birds are so loud, so chirpy, so alive, and I wonder, as I sit here in my summer dress, watching the world go by, have they always been so happy? Even the air smells fresher to senses that are free. How long I have waited to feel the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair without the overwhelming burden of guilt. I can listen to the bells of Oxford and appreciate the richness of their chimes, the depth of their tones, without feeling panic at the onward march of time. There is nowhere I have to be,  nothing I need to do. And it is summer at last, and the world is alive and rejoicing with me. There can be no greater contentment than this.

The last few weeks have been rougher than any I’ve known in my privileged life. I’d forgotten what it was like not to feel exhausted to the core, to wake without feeling sickening dread at the thought of the day ahead, to sleep at night without bad dreams. I’ve watched strong men and women snap in two, perhaps irreversibly.

So when we flowed out of the exam schools onto the street on Friday after our last exam, all two hundred odd historians bearing their red carnations, I have never felt such tangible relief. In a surreal, exhausted daze our friends near blinded us with champagne before thrusting bottles into our eager, shaking hands; paint and silly string and glitter and flour and foam were pelted from all angles and confetti rained from the sky like one enormous street party. I couldn’t stop laughing and laughing and laughing; the sun came out and the cheering and the laughing and the popping of party poppers and champagne bottles was so loud, so raucous, so giddying; euphoric to the point of madness. I stumbled back to my room, shedding glitter and silly string across the ancient quods, and washed my hair three times but couldn’t get it glitter-free. I drank more champagne and played loud music and threw all my papers up in the air and watched them flutter to the floor as the late afternoon light poured through the windows. I went out and celebrated properly, and then slept for twelve hours straight.

My eating until that moment of emancipation was erratic at best. Granola bars, along with coffee and gin, were a staple of my diet. They’re just so quick to make, keep for days, and can be eaten in thirty seconds behind a bookcase in the Bodleian. I made them so many times and in so many different variations that I can safely say these are the best. They hold together well, they’re the right sweetness and the right flavour, but of course you can adapt the add-ins to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. Whilst I can’t bring myself to eat them again for a long time yet, I did manage to recreate them for those unfortunate souls who still need study fuel, or anyone who just needs a good, tasty snack that’s solid enough to eat on the go.

Makes 8


  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted (use a refined coconut oil if you don’t want it to taste of coconut, it’s also a lot cheaper. Butter would work too)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or regular sugar would work)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped


Pretty straight forward really. Grease a 9 inch square tin with coconut oil. Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl then transfer it to the tin, pressing it in firmly with the back of a spoon. Put in the fridge for a few hours to set, then slice it up.

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