Tuesday, April 13, 2010

HEALTHY HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS

I have been searching quite some time for the perfect granola bar recipe; one that doesn't have a lot of oil and doesn't fall apart on you to where you end up with granola but no bar. I think I've found it! I've used this base recipe 3 or 4 times now and have loved the outcome. I added some extra nutrition to the bars by including wheat bran, wheat germ and flax meal (ground flax seeds). These are SO much better for you than any you buy in the store that have corn syrup and hydrogenated oils and a ton of sugar! The bars pictured in front are Coconut chocolate nut and are crispy like a Nature Valley granola bar. The ones in the background are P.B. apple cranberry, and are thicker and chewier. I have to be honest; the "crispy" batch was kind of an accident. I wasn't really paying attention to the recipe and was trying to cut down on dishes by using the same 9x11 pan to bake them in that I used for toasting the oatmeal in. It wasn't until I got them out of the oven that I realized my mistake. I was so disappointed! Until...I tasted one and it was actually good! I did another batch and switched out some of the ingredients and this time made them in the correct size pan. Which is my favorite?? Both! (as my 4 year old always says).

** You can customize this recipe and have fun trying different combinations such as cinnamon-raisin, chocolate-cherry, white chocolate-craisin, smores, etc.


Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (Quick oats works fine)
Handful of wheat germ, wheat bran, flax meal, toasted with oats
    1/2 cup sliced almonds (can use chopped pecans, walnuts, etc.)
    1/3 cup of honey
    1/4 cup of brown sugar
    2 tbsp unsalted butter (I use Smart Balance spread)
** If using peanut butter, add it in with the honey mixture. I used about 3 heaping Tbsp.
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (decrease slightly if using table salt)
    1/2 cup of shredded coconut
    1/4 cup of mini semi sweet chocolate chips
Spray a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the oats and almonds onto a baking sheet pan. Place in the oven (while preheating) and toast for 8 -10 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the brown sugar mixture, next add the coconut and chocolate chips then stir to combine. If you don't want the chocolate chips to melt & disappear completely, wait to add them on top of the bars prior to baking. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 22-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Cut into squares or bars, wrap individually in saran wrap then store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes about 9-12 bars depending on how big you cut them.
** If you want a crispier bar; spread mixture in a 9x11 shallow metal pan (like a small rimmed baking sheet) and bake as above.

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