Friday, September 3, 2010

Granola Bars: Make Your Own!

In a few weekends I'll be heading up north to Algonquin Park for a few days of lakes, canoes, and campfires.
One thing we always tend to pack to bring with us food-wise is a box of granola bars.
They don't take up a lot of space and they make perfect snacks when you need something to give you more energy to paddle until lunch or until dinner time.
I want to try and make my own granola bars to take with us this time.
A lot of recipes include nuts and peanut butter so obviously a nut-free granola bar is preferable.
I found 2 recipes that interest me, one that I can make as-is and the other that uses a lot of nuts and nut products. I kind of want to see if I can substitue things to make it nut-free without ruining the taste.
I don't think anyone who isn't allergic to nuts has ever tried any of those no-nut butter products (I certainly wouldn't if I could still stick my hands in a jar of peanut butter and lick those fingers clean) but I tried a no-nut peanut butter product one time a few years ago. It was phenomenal ....the first time. I made a no-nut butter and banana sandwich and almost cried it was so good.
Then the second time I tried it, it tasted all wrong and actually made me feel sick.
So I'm wondering if I used it in a recipe where it's not necessarily the main ingredient whether it will work or not.
First up:
Anna Olsen's Granola Bars

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the sides of the pan.
2. Toss 2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds together in a bowl.
3. In a pot over medium-low heat, stir 1 cup peanut butter (or nut free alternative), 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and 1/2 tsp salt until melted.
4. Pour melted mixture over oat base and stir until blended. Stir in 1 egg and spread granola into prepared pan, patting down to make even. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for 20 minutes before chilling for 2 hours.
5. To cut, lift granola out of pan with parchment paper and cut into bars.
The second recipe is already a nut-free recipe:
Martha Stewart's Nonuttin' Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars
(From Alana Elliot of Nonuttin' Foods)
1. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; line baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
2.Place 1 3/4 cups oatmeal and 1 1/4 cups crisp-rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, mix together 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1/3 cup honey. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add to oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and well combined.
4. Evenly pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips. When mixture is cool enough to touch, press down into pan. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into 16 (1-by-4-inch) bars. Granola bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.

I'd be tempted to add some dried cranberries, or other dried fruits to this recipe just to make it a bit more interesting.
I may attempt both of these recipes at some point in the upcoming weeks so I'll keep you posted on which one is the better recipe.
Off to work - forecast calls for rain so it could be a nice easy day!

P.S. I made the pumpkin spice lattes last night - really good! Give that recipe a try!

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