You're gonna love homemade granola bars
Ever looked at the ingredients on a typical granola bar? Yikes. What is that stuff? If you can't pronounce what's on the label, it's a good clue you shouldn't be eating it.
That's why I've been making my own granola bars. I've seen some good organic brands, but homemade is definitely cheaper and tastier. This recipe is similar to a chewy-type bar, a la Quaker or Kashi, sans partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), other non-food ingredients and packaging waste. You can create just about any flavor combination you want. I usually just use up whatever I have in my pantry when I make them. This time, that meant dark chocolate, cranberry and almond granola bars (using all organic ingredients).
Dark Chocolate Cranberry Almond chewy granola bars
Prep Time: 10 mins Bake Time: 35 mins
Makes 18 bars
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup craisins
1 tsp course sea salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil (coconut works great)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients. Transfer to a greased 13x9-inch pan and pack it down evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into squares or bars after 3-5 minutes of cooling (don't wait any longer or the granola bars will be too crunchy to cut without crumbling).
For flavor variations, try mixing in:
Chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
Your favorite (organic) cereal in lieu of crisp rice cereal
Raisins, dates or other dried fruit
I wish these bars lasted long enough to freeze some, but that just hasn't happened yet. Let me know if you come up with a delicious variation!
I made a healthier plain chocolate chip version of these, using all whole wheat flour (still tasted great!), a bit of flaxseed meal for good measure and also substituting 1 tbsp of flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tbsp of water instead of an egg. This offers a healthier vegan option (you may want to use agave or maple syrup instead of honey if you are going full-on vegan). These were my best bars yet because they were super healthy, yet didn't taste like cardboard. My roommate and friends really enjoyed them.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
I just made a peanut butter chocolate chip version of this granola bar. Instead of almonds, dark chocolate and craisins, I mixed in about 2/3 cup peanut butter and 2/3 cup chocolate chips. I didn't have any crisp rice cereal on hand, so I added a half cup of oats and a half cup of flour to the recipe. I also used whole wheat flour this time to make them a bit healthier (yes, they taste healthier too, but still good). They turned out just great, and now I've got snacks for the work week!