I love snacks. This is not the best thing ever for my waistline, obviously. The solution is not going to be stop snacking completely; I am a realist and know that isn’t going to happen. So perhaps it would be better to snack intelligently; this is something that I can accomplish. As long as smart snacking doesn’t equal things that taste like cardboard.
I started to buy granola bars. I like the chewy kind, more often than not, but the crunchy ones are good too. My problem is I am not 10, so I dont really want a chewy rice crispy treat covered in chocolate…ok well not all the time…which the reasonably priced ones pretty much are. The interesting ones aren’t really all that interesting, truth be told, and tend to cost a fortune. Even when I started researching recipes of my own a ton of them had corn syrup in it. And of course the store bought ones have a bunch of preservatives and stuff in them…healthy doesn’t have to be so complicated; I kinda like knowing everything in my food.
So I started screwing around to make my own. The method for making a granola bar is, in general, the same as making granola, it’s baked for less, I add puffed rice cereal and additional syrup to it for a lighter texture. Coolest part of making your own granola is it can be as interesting as you want it to be. This recipe has dried cherries, raspberries and blueberries, cashews and almonds. Pistachios, cranberries and apricots are also a delicious combo. The recipe is flexible, as long as the volume of ingredients is the same you can add whatever you like as far as additions.
I don’t usually add chocolate chips to this kind of granola, they melt into mush – but I also have melted 1 cup of peanut butter, nutella or chocolate chips into the syrup to totally change up the flavor. So. Good.
I usually get all my guts for granola bars at Penn Mac in the bulk foods section up front. They have a bunch of seeds, nuts and other random deliciousness in the bins & on the shelves.
Chewy Granola Bars – yield 24 bars
- 2 cups Rolled Oats
- 1 cup Wheat Germ
- 1 cup Sunflower Seeds
- 1/2 cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/2 cup Roasted Salted Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 cup Crushed Salted Cashews
- 1 cup Crushed Whole Almonds
- 3 cups Puffed Rice Cereal
- 2 cups Dried Fruit – I used a mix of dried cherries, raspberries and blueberries
- 16oz Honey
- 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 4 Tbsp Butter
Preheat the oven to 350. I put the nuts into a big ziplock baggie and beat the crap out of them with a rolling pin. It is an amazingly inaccurate way to crush them so you end up with some small pieces, halves, whole…I prefer that kind of random for the application. You can also add a couple tablespoons of Flax Seed if you’d like, I personally dont like them. Substitute whatever kind of nuts & seeds you’d like, but make sure the volume measures are the same.
Put all of the first group of ingredients on a half sheet tray, mix together and bake for 15 minutes. Stir up the pan half way through to make sure it toasts evenly.
Put the puffed rice cereal and dried fruit in a large bowl and toss together to combine. Put the honey, brown sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a sauce pot over medium heat and stir until the brown sugar is completely dissolved. You dont want to let the syrup come up to a simmer and stir continuously. If you are adding peanut butter, nutella or chocolate chips now is the time. Add it and stir in to melt.
When the oat mixture is done toasting use the parchment to pick up and add to the bowl with the cereal. Toss gently, you dont want to smash the cereal up. Pour the syrup over the cereal mixture and use a spoon or spatula to fold together until everything is evenly coated in the syrup.
Press the mixture into a parchment lined half sheet tray firmly and evenly. If you wet your hands it won’t stick to the mixture and you can easily press it into the pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before trying to cut. Use a pizza wheel to cut the tray into 24 bars & run a paring knife around the edges to make sure nothing is sticking.
Cover the top with a piece of parchment paper and put another half tray on top. Flip the whole thing over so you can get the granola bars out of the pan – wiggle & jiggle as necessary. Slide them off the tray and onto the counter and press them down again to make sure everything survived. Let them cool completely and then peel off the bottom parchment. They should come apart easily on the cuts, if not fix the cuts and break apart.
Store in an airtight container or individually bag them for use in lunches and stuff. Once they are cooled they can be drizzled with melted chocolate…also delicious.