Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thick, chewy, yummy granola bars

I am in trouble.  I made these wonderful, thick, chewy and healthy granola bars.  A wonderful snack for the kids, made without preservatives or additives in my own kitchen.  The problem is, I can't stop eating them!  It doesn't matter how healthy something is, it becomes unhealthy when you don't stop.  So try these, they are wonderful.  But do so with a warning, they are irresistible.

It has been raining and raining and raining.  We have been making forts and obstacle courses.  Coming up with as many interesting, active, indoor activities as possible in a home without a basement, playroom or padded room with straight jackets.  All of these activities are fun and they can be quite stimulating.  However, when I look outside and see dark skies at noon and rain coming down what I really want to do, my truly favorite indoor activity is baking.  There is always bread to be made.  But my no-knead method (bread, bread, bread post) has made bread making a truly efficient project, taking up very little rainy day, indoor time.  As well I can only make so many cookies, cakes and other sweets - so I have sought out healthy and interesting snacks we can all enjoy.  My new favorite granola bars, sweetened with honey and dried fruit.

Here is the granola bar recipe.  I found this recipe at, I made a few alterations and added a few suggestions.  Please feel free to play with the recipe and make whatever changes seem tasty to you.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I found you don't need any sugar the bars are sweet enough with the honey,  if you do however choose to add some sugar feel free to use any kind you'd like.  I found the dark brown sugar adds good flavor)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender, or any kind of flour you'd like if you are not concerned about the bars being gluten free.  I also enjoy halving the flour and adding half wheat germ/half flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*(mix it up, add whatever you have in your cupboard, I added peanuts and cranberries delicious, if you have nut allergies you can add all fruit, it will be sweeter so reduce your sugar)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (you can also add tahini or sunflower butter for the families with nut allergies)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or agave syrup 
2 tablespoons barley malt syrup or brown rice syrup (the recipe called for corn syrup, I never use it, but it can be used as well)
1 tablespoon water

Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost under baked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. [Updating to note, as many had crumbling issues:] If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried apples or even chocolate chips. My mix: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes. Because my pieces were all pretty coarse, I pulsed them in the food processor a few times to break it up a little, though this isn’t necessary if you don’t mind yours chunkier.

Enjoy and try, just try eating only one!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    Wonderful adaptation. As a blogger for SunButter (brand of sunflower seed spread), I'm always looking for new recipes, and I really like this one. Looking forward to following your posts.