Friday, April 24, 2009

Granola Bars

So my husband, Ron, and i have been trying to avoid as many processed foods as possible.  We are doing this in part out of financial necessity (so far everything we have made has come way under the cost of the product in the store even with using quality ingredients), part because we believe it is important to eat whole foods and truly because i don't understand what half of the items are listed as ingredients!  It has been pretty challenging because when the kids want a snack i need to have prepared something ahead of time.  I also need to keep up of the bread baking so there is always toast for breakfast.  And for those of you that know me well, this is quite a challenge.  Frankly i just started cooking in the last couple of years.  So all of this to say, if anyone has any advice or recipes i would love to hear them.  

I have been checking out granola bar recipes, everything from Alton Brown to Mother Earth News and most all are fairly the same.  I ended up using the recipe from Mother Earth News as a guideline.  Obviously you can really play around with these recipes.  By the way if you have never made granola bars they are super easy and take very little time!

Homemade Granola Bars (adapted from Mother Earth News)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut (this is key to amazing flavor)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 TB butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (organic) (i've also seen recipes use part molasses, part maple syrup)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread oats, coconut, seeds, wheat germ, and almonds on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, heat the butter, brown sugar and honey in small pan, allowing it to simmer until the oat mixture is ready to come out of the oven.  When the oat mixture is ready, stir in the raisins.  Remove honey mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the hot mixture on the oat mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are covered.  Press the granola firmly into the bottom of a greased 8"x 8" pan and place back in the oven for 20 minutes.  (this pan will make thick one inch bars, if you want thinner use a larger pan)  When you remove the granola from the oven, allow it to cool slightly before cutting into squares.  (don't be worried if it is a little crumbly, it will set up)  Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

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