If you are like me, you sometimes struggle to find time for breakfast. I know I need a healthy dosage of protein in the mornings, as well as fiber and some whole grains. But, man is it hard to get all that and still get kids to school on time, straighten up, and manage to get a shower.
Sure, I make oatmeal and I scramble eggs. But sometimes I just get tired of that. I started searching a few weeks ago for a good granola bar recipe. Yes, I could buy them at the grocery. The supply of gluten free ones is limited, but even most of those are packed with ingredients I’m not that fond of, including high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and tons and tons of sugar. All that to say, after my searching, I have found IT. The original recipe is from SmittenKitchen ( http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/02/thick-chewy-granola-bars/). I didn’t change much and they turned out great.
And it is versatile. You can play with them and make them with the flavors you and your family like. I used cranberries, almonds, and walnuts in mine. But you could use any dried fruits, nuts, even coconut.
So, if you are in need of a quick breakfast or nutritional boost in your day, give these a try for something new. Or maybe your husband leaves at the crack of dawn some days like mine and you want him to have something tasty to take with his coffee? 🙂 I bet he would love you for these!
Thick, Chewy Granola Bars (original recipe by Smitten Kitchen, with just a few variations by me)
1 2/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar) (I used 1/2 a cup and I thought it was PLENTY. I might actually decrease it a bit next time because I don’t want this to be like eating a dessert 🙂 )
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender) (I used 1/3 cup flax meal instead and loved it!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts ( I used a cup of slivered almonds, a cup of chopped walnuts, and a cup of dried cranberries)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used natural crunchy peanut butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter (I didn’t have butter, so I used 3 TBSP olive oil and 3 TBSP vegetable oil. . . worked GREAT)
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I used Maple Syrup because I prefer its flavor)
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
I let mine cool on the counter for about 30 min and then put them in the fridge for another 30-45 minutes. They were easy to cut and didn’t crumble at all!
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.