Friday, January 31, 2014

Granola Bars

Granola Bars
This recipe is long overdue.  One of my gym buddies has been asking me ever since I started this blog if I had a good recipe for granola bars.  I have made granola in the past and have a couple of good trail mix bar recipes, but hadn't yet put the two together.  The problem I find with homemade granola bars is that without adding excessive amounts of sugar, it is hard to get the bars to stick together well, especially when you want to mix in healthy additions like dried fruits and nuts.  Oats alone, when soaked in some combination of oil and syrup, hold together well, so if that is what you are looking for, feel free to replace all or some of the nuts, seeds and fruit in this bar with more oats.  You might get bars that hold their shape a bit better.  That being said, these granola bars are ridiculously delicious, full of high fiber and high protein ingredients and are sure to please both kids and adults.  My daughter wasn't happy that most of the chocolate chips in them melted when I mixed the ingredients together and at first refused to take a bite, but once I convinced her to just taste it, she was won over.  I promised her that the next time I make them I will put a few chocolate chips on the top before I bake them so they retain their shape and are visible.  These bars are so yummy and so simple to throw together that I am certain I will be making many variations in the future and promise to post my most successful creations.

Granola Bars

2 C. organic regular oats
3/4 C. raw almonds
oats, nuts, seeds & coconut
1/4 C. raw sunflower seeds
1/4 C. organic unsweetened coconut
1/4 C. wheat germ
1/4 C. ground flax seed
1/2 C. pure maple syrup
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. organic virgin coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. dried fruit (I used tart cherries)
1/4 C. mini dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a 9 x 13 inch pan, toss together the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds and coconut.  Bake for 5 minutes, stir, then bake for another 5 minutes.  Let cool for a minute and then stir in the wheat germ and flax seed. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. In the meantime, heat the maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and salt in a large saucepan, bring to boil for a minute and stir. Remove from heat and mix in the oat mixture to coat evenly. Let cool for 10 minutes, then stir in fruit and chocolate chips. (chocolate chips still might melt a bit- that is ok, it helps to hold the bars together).  Spray the pan with non stick cooking spray and pour the granola mixture back into the prepared pan. Use a spatula and press the mixture down firmly. Bake for about 25 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into the squares. Serve at room temperature.

ready to mix together
all cooked (and already sampled!)
cut into bars

snack time!

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