Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Granola Bars

When I go shopping, it takes me forever, especially if I am purchasing a new product.  So I am that mom you see standing there in the aisle, shopping cart blocking traffic (sorry)  reading the ingredient listing and trying to make heads or tails of the nutrition label.  I became very compulsive of this when it was time to purchase those quick snacks for my children's lunches.  You know the kind...something that they can hold in their hand, not be messy, requires no utensils and can be eaten in a flash so that they can enjoy their recess/lunch break.  And I am that mom that wants to make sure that they are getting "all the colors of the rainbow" in their daily eats and not too much unnecessary sugar.  I used to buy those lovely granola bars.  You know the kind.  As I too used to get them in my lunch when I was a kid.  There are so many brands and flavors out there on the shelves.  But if you look at the ingredients, no matter how many times they say "0 Fat", "Now Made without High Fructose Corn Syrup", there is still corn syrup in them and many other ingredients that you can't pronounce and or that don't need to be in a granola bar.  Making granola bars are simple!  It is worth it, because you know what's in it and that it was made with love.<3

2 cups of rolled oats (I use everything from rye, barley, oats, kamut and spelt flakes)
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar (yes, a little sugar.  But think of it this's not in one bar, but in the entire recipe)
1/2 cup wheat germ (I also add ground flaxseed here to make it to 1/2 c)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (this is where I play a bit depending on what I have....Spelt and WW Flour is generally what I use so that the total is 1 cup)
3/4 cup of cranberries (I personally like the unsweetened ones, the kids like the blueberry flavored ones, this is also where you can play a bit...add what you have on hand - raisins, dried apricots, dried cherries, dried blueberries)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup of Honey or Agave or Brown Rice Syrup (this is needed to stick it together)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Apple Sauce (I use blueberry or apricot flavored)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

So this is the basic recipe.  You can play around with the ingredients depending on what you have on hand.  Just try to keep the ratios.  The egg and the honey are the binder, the apple sauce is the moisture (instead of oil), the brown sugar (and the honey) gives it the sweetness, the salt balances out the flavor, and the flours and oats give it the texture.  Every oven is different.  This is the temp. that works for me.  I do check it at 25 minutes.  Oh, and the kids love it when I put in the little chocolate chips.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan - or line with parchment paper for easy removal.  I have also used a rimmed cookie sheet.  Rack in middle of oven.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, coconut and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, apple sauce and vanilla. Mix using a spoon or your hands.  I start with a spoon and finish with my hands.  Then pour the mixture into your prepared pan and press down so that it is spread evenly in the pan.  I do use my hands for this (I scrape off what I can, then spritz my hands with EVOO and just keep pressing down until it is all even.  It's a little messy)
  3. Bake for 30 minutes but watching carefully.  You want to remove the bars when they begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm.  Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut. Another thing I do is that I flip the pan over after 5 minutes onto my cutting board and cut there.  
  4. To keep these guys moist, store in an airtight container.  I also keep in the fridge.  They freeze well too.  If I see that they are hardening up, I will add a little slice of an apple to the container - that crazy apple gas!  

Enjoy and let me know how they work for you and what changes you did.  This is a very versatile recipe that I have been making for nine years.  Always different, but always good.  So the kids tell me!  :-)

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