Meatless Monday: Granola Bars

(Day late, dollar short. Yadda yadda yadda.)

In case you don’t already know this: Making your own granola is stupid easy. Plus, it tastes really good and if you make it yourself, you’ll know all six to eight ingredients that you put in it. It stores well, and is perfect for breakfast with vanilla yogurt.

I plan on making it all the time now.

I got a recipe from a friend that I haven’t tried yet (her husband loves granola, and so she makes it by the bucketful), but I did try this recipe for Maple Pecan Granola from Emily Levenson. I added dried cranberries because I like dried fruit in my granola. It’s wonderful, and was wonderfully easy.

After I figured out how to make granola, I became obsessed with finding out if I could make granola bars. Granola bars (or as Kate calls them “granilla” bars) are a lunchbox staple for my girls. But I’m not fond of my choices. Store-bought granola bars have a lot ingredients, many of them include corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, and the healthy ones are definitely targeted at adults, and as such aren’t very chewy or sweet. (I’m looking at you Kashi TLC.)

Fortunately, at the same time I was becoming obsessed with this, Miss @mindymin, who blogs at MindyBakes.com, was in experimentation mode. The same day I tweeted, “Do I have to make granola in order to make granola bars?” she posted this recipe, which is what I used as my guideline. Her solution to making them chewy rather than hard/crunchy is puffed rice cereal, and it’s **perfect**.

I give all the credit to Mindy on these. I had to make some adjustments due to what I had at home, but the recipe at her site is the perfect guideline. What follows is my recipe based on hers, and you should check out hers because she’s a pro. Plus she suggests drizzling chocolate over the finished product for a nice dessert bar. Also: she takes pictures.

Chewy Granilla Bars
adapted from Mindy Bakes

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pepitas (roasted and salted)
1 cup chopped raw cashews
1 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 350. I rough chopped the cashews and peanuts in my food processor. You have to be careful not to reduce them to nut flour though. Nine or ten short pulses should do it. Combine all these ingredients on a cookie tray or half sheet tray on parchment paper, and toast them in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir up the ingredients halfway through toasting time.

3 cups puffed rice cereal — Put into large bowl. If you are using dried fruit add it to the cereal and toss.

8 oz. honey*
8 oz. agave juice/nectar*
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup natural peanut butter*

Combine these ingredients into a sauce pot on medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is completely dissolved. Don’t let mixture boil.

Combine oat and nut mixture with cereal (and fruit) in the large bowl. Toss gently. Pour the syrup over the cereal mixture and fold together with a spoon or spatula until everything is coated in syrup.

Press mixture into a parchment lined half sheet tray firmly and evenly. If you wet your hands, they won’t stick to the mixture. Be careful because it’s warm! Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Use a pizza wheel to cut into bars. Wrap bars individually.

*You can use 16 oz of honey, but I only had 1 cup. You can also use maple syrup, which is what I would have used except when I went to get it I discovered I was all out. So I went with the agave nectar that my husband has to hand. (I need to buy a new bottle of that now, too.) Instead of peanut butter, you can use almond butter, nutella, or chocolate chips.

I’m going to cut this recipe in half next time, and use cranberries and chocolate chips.

Kate gave me a thumbs up on the granilla bars, but Flora is ambivalent. I think they are excellent as well, and I feel really good about having discovered a great recipe to use. Thanks, Mindy!

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