Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

If you're like me, you're constantly on the hunt for a healthy snack for your kids that they will eat and enjoy. You are also concerned about the high volume of processed, high fructose corn syrup-laden snacks that are available for kids. I've had the hardest time finding a granola bar that is truly healthy.
We made these granola bars and took them on a week-long camping trip last year. They were all eaten in the course of the week, but even outside of the fridge or freezer, they lasted the week, traveled well in hiking lunches, and were filling, energy-supplying, and healthy. I love this recipe.
With a piece of fruit, these make a great after school snack, and I've even been known to use them as breakfast for myself when I'm in a hurry. They're the portable version of a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts... er... if you include chocolate chips in your oatmeal, that is.
These are easy, except for the one step that will possibly make you curse my name.

Just add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl. I do mine in my Bosch with the cookie paddle attachments. The photos are of a double batch, which makes two jelly roll pans.

I start with the dry ingredients.

I pulse them together, and then add the wet ingredients.

I mix these together and do a texture check. Should be sticky and fall apart easily, like an oatmeal drop cookie.

Then I add the ingredients whose purpose is to bulk up and give texture to the granola bars. Nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, dried fruit.

Here's the part where you'll possibly want to kill me. Pressing the sticky glue-like mixture into the silpat or wax-paper-lined jelly roll pan... It takes a long time, and sticks to your fingers, even if you oil them. But it's worth it. Just be patient, already.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. The top should no longer feel sticky to the touch, and the edges should just barely be starting to turn golden brown.

Then turn out immediately onto a cutting board, or other pizza-cutter friendly surface.

Here's where the silicone baking mat comes in handy. Look how cleanly it peels away from the bars.

While the bars are still warm and supple, cut them into bars with a pizza cutter.

I personally like to cut the bars 7 by 4, making 28 bars, but cut them however you like.

I put them into my rectangular plastic container, and store them in the freezer to keep them at their freshest until they're needed. My toddler has already eaten two since I made them an hour ago. I find it helpful to refer to them as cookies... it helps her to love them more.

Cut-and-Paste Recipe
Healthy Granola Bars
(makes 28 bars, 1 jelly roll pan)
3 C rolled oats
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1.5 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C flax meal (If you have a good blender, you can grind your own from flax seeds.)
1/3 C honey
1/3 C brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 C applesauce
1 T vanilla
1/2 C each of dried cranberries or raisins, diced or sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, choc. chips

Mix all ingredients together. I start with the dry ingredients, then add the wet ones. I end with the chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

Line a jelly roll pan with waxed paper or a silicone baking mat, sprayed with cooking spray.
Press batter into pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Turn out onto a cutting board. Cut into bars with a pizza cutter. Store in freezer until needed.

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