Saturday, January 23, 2010

Granola Bars

The best thing about making your own granola bars, aside from the cost savings, is that you can control exactly what ingredients go in them. I have been making these homemade granola bars for quite a while now and they're the perfect portable snack! Believe me when I say this. My son, Kris, loves to grab one to throw in his backpack to help get him through the day and everyone who tries them agrees they're amazing!
I first read the recipe here and still use pretty much that original recipe but I've made a few changes. I didn't want a too sweet granola bar. I mean, all that sweetness is kind of counter productive to the purpose of eating a healthy granola bar. Right? So I cut down on the original sugar amount.
Another great thing about these bars is that you can switch out one kind of nut for another or change the dried fruits, using from no dried fruits to one or two. Our favorite combo around here is raisins and dried cranberries. But that's not to say dried cherries or apricots wouldn't be terrific..or how about a combo of dried cherries and mini chocolate chips..or apricots and almonds..or..whoa! Somebody stop me!
You can also make spice granola bars. I've added the spice amounts at the end of the full recipe below.
So I guess you get the idea. Make them with whatever you like in them. But the point is, make them!

Preheat your oven to 400.
Begin by placing the peanuts into your food processor and pulse a few times to get them nicely chopped, but not too fine. You still want some a little larger than others.
Then into a baking sheet, place the oats, nuts, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the oat mixture is baking, place the brown sugar, honey ( I use a wildflower honey which explains the dark color being poured into the pan), butter ( yes,it has butter but only 4 tablespoons for the whole batch!), vanilla and salt into a medium pan and heat, over low heat, til the mixture is warmed, stirring constantly.

Once the oat mixture is baked, dump it into a medium or large bowl and add the dried fruits.

Pour the wet mixture into the oat mixture and stir.

Prepare an 11" by 13" glass pan by spraying with Pam, then lining with either plastic wrap or waxed paper. Then spray that.
Dump the mixture into the glass pan and spread out with a spoon.
Grab a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper and spray with Pam. Spread the mixture evenly pressing down as you spread.
Then just let it sit a few hours and you've got , depending on the size you cut, a dozen bars. Wrap them individually. They keep like this for quite a while, like a week or two.

Granola Bars
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts ( pulsed a little in food processor but still keep some larger than others)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
approx. 8 oz. dried fruit
Preheat oven to 400.
1. Pulse peanuts in food processor.
2. On a baking sheet, mix oats, nuts, wheat germ, sunflower seeds.
3. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Spray an 11" by 13" glass pan with Pam and line with waxd paper or plastic wrap. Spray that with Pam.
5. Into a medium pan, place brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and salt. Bring to simmer and stir constantly til the mixture is all dissolved.
6. Once the oat mixture is browned, place into a medium or large bowl with the dried fruits.
7. Pour the wet mix over the oat mix and stir to combine all.
8. Place this mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spoon. Then take a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap and spray with a little Pam. Spread the mix, pressing down as you spread.
9. Set it aside for 2 to 3 hours. Then lift it out, ( for easier cutting), using the paper to lift and cut into sizes of bars you like, using a heavy knife.
10. Wrap each bar individually. Throw a few into your purse! Or your kids backpack!
Spice Bars : Add the following spices for more flavor. Adjust the amount depending on
how much you like the flavors.
1 tbsp. orange zest, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. cardamom, 1 tsp. ginger,
1/2 tsp. cloves.

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