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 325º. 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!