When the weather is gray and murky, I turn to food blog surfing for comfort and inspiration. Bring on the carbs, I say! Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for granola bars that caught my eye. Just like everything else I cook, I used that recipe as a basic guideline and really just did my own thing. I'm pleased to say that the pan of gooey nuts, craisins and oats turned into some really wonderfully tasty bars. I'm not sure I can go quite as far as calling them truly healthy, because they do have butter and brown sugar in them, but I used a nice blend of whole wheat flour, oats, flax, pure almond butter, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds to counteract them, and skipped the corn syrup in favor of honey and maple syrup. This is the sort of recipe that you can unleash your imagination for combination possibilities and be hard pressed to go wrong. I'm thinking they're a great grab-n-go breakfast choice.
Moist and Chewy (and even mostly healthy) Granola Bars
Dry ingredient mix:
1 2/3 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 cup ground flax seed
2-3 cups your choice of nuts and dried fruits (I used sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, coconut and craisins), chopped coarsely if desired
Wet ingredient mix:
6 T. melted butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup peanut or almond butter
1 t. vanilla (optional)
Prepare an 8x8 square pan or an 11x7 rectangular pan by lining it in one direction with parchment paper, allowing some overhang for easy removal after baking. Lightly mist the ends of the pan that are not covered with parchment. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together until well combined. In a small bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together, then stir into the dry ingredient mixture until everything is uniformly coated. Press into an even layer in the pan.
Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until the edges and top are golden. It will still yield to touch in the center, but will set up as it cools. Allow it to cool in the pan for 20 minutes or so before gently lifting it out by the parchment paper overhang onto a wire rack. Once it is entirely cool, cut into bars with a serrated knife. Store in a tightly closed container. SK says you can freeze these - I doubt they'll last long enough here for that to be an issue ;).