Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Easier than Pie! Make your own Granola Bars!

Why spend $2 or even up to $4 on granola bars with very questionable ingredients if you could make some that are actually nutritious, tailored to your taste and cheap?
Standard granola bar template:

A - Grain base: Most often rolled oats, but could also be puffed rice or millet or combination of grains. This accounts for about ⅔ of your granola bars substance.

B - Nuts and seeds - unless you are allergic - in which case you just omit - this is what gives the granola its nutritional value. All nuts are fine - almonds are always my favorite nutrition-wise. Suggestions: Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds - all should be unroasted, organic if affordable and sugar free.

C - Fun stuff - that’s where the customization comes in - anywhere from chocolate chips to flaxseeds - you can either go sweet or nutritious - it is yours to chose. Of course you can also make compromises and add a little bit of junk and lots of good stuff. The list here is pretty long: shredded coconut, TVP(for extra protein), chocolate chips, carob chips, white chocolate chips, pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, bits of leftover cereal, mini marshmallows etc

D - dried fruit - again anything goes - if the dried fruit is a bit big chop down to about chocolate chip size - scissors work best. Suggestions: raisins, figs, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, apples, apricots etc

E - glue - otherwise know as sugar. Actually what you want is a combination of sugar or honey or agave nectar with a certain amount of nutbutter - peanut or almond work really well - tahini or sesame seed butter is really nutritious as well

F - flavorings: a touch of salt is essential to bring the flavors together, cinnamon, vanilla, orange zest all works well - for more unusual flavors try hot cocoa mix or paprika, sage and chili mix - Who says granola bars cannot have a savory flavor?

So, pick one or several favorites from each group and get mixing. The recipe I used is geared towards my son’s taste - notice the absence of dried fruit. Go ahead make your own and share your favorite combinations.

Granola Bars: makes about 20

3 cups rolled oats = $1.38
½ cup shredded coconut = $0.30

½ cup pumpkin seeds = $0.48
1 cup walnuts = $1.89
½ cup almonds = $0.79
¼ cup flaxseeds = $0.12
1 teaspoon sea salt = $0.05
1 teaspoon cinnamon = $0.09
¼ cup agave nectar = $0.64
¼ cup peanut butter = $0.68
¼ cup dark brown sugar = $0.03

Total for 20 granola bars: $6.45 or $0.32 per granola bar

1. Heat oven to 325ยบ. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange oats, nuts, seeds and coconut shreds and toast for 15 minutes.

2. Combine the wet ingredients - agave nectar and peanut butter - with the flavorings salt, cinnamon - leave out stuff that would melt such as chocolate chips - and combine with the sugar - stir over a low heat until the sugar melts.

3. Combine the dry toasty ingredients with the guey ones and mix well. Spread out in a baking pan - so the mixture comes up about ¾ of an inch on the sides. If you like your granola bars thinner use a bigger pan or a smaller one of you like them chunkier. Press down well so there are no air pockets. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. After the baking sheet has cooled down completely - cut with a very sharp knife - pressing down with your weight to produce clean cuts. Enjoy!


angie said...

Thank you so much for the recipe!

Well-quest said...

I have found that buying organic can increase the cost of eating vegetarian, but in my mind it is worth it. That being said, I'm heading to the kitchen to make these delicious sounding bars right now. Thanks for posting this great recipe.

moni said...

Hi Well-quest!
You are welcome - send me a picture of your bars and maybe you would like to share your version. The variations are endless and that is why it is so much fun.
Regarding the organics - it helps to know which produce is not affected by pesticides - I am sure you are aware of the "dirty dozen" if not you can read about which produce has to be organic and which is optional here:

Jill said...

I had trouble getting these bars to stick together... ended up having to double the amount of the wet ingredients... any suggestions?

moni said...

You could soak the oats in a bit of juice or water to make them more gluey - and when you put your ingredients into the pan make sure they are well mixed and that you really press them down....
I have had a hard time when I reduce the sugar because let's face it - sugar or agave nectar or honey makes for a yummy glue...
The longer you bake them the more brittle they get. How did yours come out in the end?
Like I always say - the variations are endless..

Cara said...

They smell so good in the oven now. I can't wait to try these once they cool! I can't help but share this recipe with everyone I know. Thanks!!

suzettetanen said...

I made these yesterday for my vegan daughter. The only substitution I made was applesauce for the brown sugar because she thought the agave nectar added enough sugar. They were delicious!

Lisa Brown said...

I can't wait to give this a try. Great blog, by the way - I just subscribed in Google Reader :)

Ashu Rags said...

Healthy, energetic and taste good. I soaked oats in 1/2 cu of apple juice to allow them to hold together, will add water next time to vary the sugar content. Thanks for a great recipe :)

Marie Anders said...

I shared this on my blog and on FB, just love it. Make them all the time with cayenne pepper! I will try the apple juice trick, too.