Homemade High-Energy Granola Bars
Category: Desserts & Sweets | Blog URL: http://moderndaydonnareed.blogspot.com/2009/05/tasty-treat-thursday.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Here is a great recipe for a homemade treat that is far better than anything you could by wrapped individually in boxes at the grocery store! These tasty creations are chock full of nutrients and fiber, completely worth the small amount of effort it takes to make them. There is something completely satisfying about creating something that is easily picked up at the grocery store, but you make it at home ALL BY YOURSELF.
Some of the ingredients might not (yet) be common to your pantry. My husband and I are on a journey to be more healthy, so we are beginning to stock up some of these items regularly. You can find most of the ingredients in either a bulk foods store, a health-food/natural-food store, the bulk or organic aisle of your grocery store (if you have one). For the locals in the Philadelphia Suburbs/Chester County: Giant (West Chester, on Rt. 322/Downingtown Pike), Wegmans (Downingtown, Rt. 30), The Great Pumpkin Market (West Chester, Market Street), The Barrel Store (West Chester, High Street/Rt. 202).
I've toyed with the recipe a bit, taking ideas from here and there. It took a few batches to get it just right for my tastes. The great thing about this recipe, though, is that you can be totally creative according to your tastes and sense of adventure :)
Tasty Treat Thursdays
Homemade High-Energy Granola Bars
2 cups Oats (I use quick cooking)
1/2 cup raw unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup raw unsalted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup of raw unsalted SLICED Almonds
1/2 cup Wheat Germ
1/2 cup Golden Flax Seeds
1 cup Honey
3 TBS Blue Agave Nectar
3 TBS Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1 TBS Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup Dried Fruit, chopped
Preheat oven to 350º
Grease a 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. On a baking sheet (with sides - this is imperative), spread the oats, seeds, nuts and wheat germ (first 6 ingredients) and toast in oven for about 12-15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Once they are toasted, turn oven down to 300º and remove from oven. During the toasting, combine the honey, nectar, butter, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until melted.
In a separate bowl, combine the oat mixture and the liquid mixture, adding the dried fruit and cinnamon. Combine so that the mixture is moist. Turn the mixture onto the glass baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish.
Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Remove, cool, cut. Can be stored in an airtight for up to a week.
1) Blue Agave Nectar is a natural alternative to sugar, and is available at the above-mentioned places.
2) I've come to a point where I am eyeballing the amounts. For the mixture to really set, make sure you definitely add enough honey and butter. If the mixture still seems somewhat dry after being combined, melt another TBS of butter and some more honey on the stove and add until the mixture is moist. I've played with the amounts a lot, and the above recipe turns out really well.
3) I am going to start buying bulk dried fruit, but in the experimentation stages, I bought packages of the Welches Dried Fruit Medleys. So far, the Berry Medley has been good, but the Tropical Medley has been amazing! From here on out, I will save myself the money, and buy dried Pineapple, Mango and Papaya in bulk! In the fall, I would like to try a dried apple/cranberry bar...
4) I initially tried Dark Flax Seed, which works ok, but I personally didn't like the flavor. Golden Flax Seed is a much lighter flavor, and compliments the other tastes nicely.
5) The few recipes I found say to cool completely before cutting into bars. The first time I did that, the bars were really dry, and they just broke into small pieces. Since the recipe is more moist, waiting until they are dry should be fine. BUT, I have been sprayed a large knife (I use my Santoku) with cooking spray, and give the bars a preliminary cut when they first come out of the oven (I cut into 12 larger rectangles). It gives me score lines to follow for once they are completely cooled. After they cool, I cut over the score lines, lift them out with a spatula, and cut them in half again.
6) While of these ingredients are easily labeled "health food," it would be easy to assume they are expensive. In the bulk aisle, I got just the amount I needed (to make 2 batches of bars) of all the solid ingredients (first 6 listed), and it seriously amounted to about $1 (give or take). Each little bag was a few cents here, a few cents there. Apart from the Agave Nectar (which will run you about $4 a bottle - but you get a bunch of servings from that bottle), I usually have the other liquid ingredients in my pantry, so those cost me practically nothing. Your only major investment is the Agave Nectar - but the bottle should last you several batches of bars.
7) I haven't tried this yet, but some of the recipes I looked at called for 1/2 cup of Powdered Non-Fat Dried Milk. If you try it, let me know how it turns out.