Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Delicious and Good For You Granola Bars

Something that really annoys me are manufactured granola bars. Granola can be one of the healthiest snacks; it's filling, gives you a boost of energy, and can be a great source of protein and other nutrients that you and your kids need. I have yet to find a decent granola bar in the store that is not loaded with sugar. So, I started making my own granola bars. It really is not hard to do, and usually only takes a little more than a half hour. My family gobbles these up for breakfast and snacks, and they go just as quickly as if I had made chocolate chip cookies! I use the recipe from Alton Brown, with a few tweeks.

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flax
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit (my family loves mixed berries, or apples)
3 Tablespoons Cinnamon (or to taste)

Butter 9x9 inch glass baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 F. In one layer, spread the oats, almonds, wheat germ, flax, and sunflower seeds onto a baking sheet. If you are using toasted almonds and sunflower seeds, then you don't need to toast them with the oats. Toast for 15 minutes.

Combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. The brown sugar should completely dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the oats/seeds/almonds, and the dried fruit. Stir to make sure that the ingredients are evenly mixed. Turn the temperature of the oven down to 300 F.

Press the mixture evenly into the buttered baking dish. bake for 25 minutes, then allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

My family loves the fruit variety, but they also really like it if I add mini marshmallows, coconut, dates, mini chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds and pie spice, or a variety of nuts. The sky is the limit, and you can really experiment with what flavors your family likes the best.

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