I’ve made many a batch during my nearly 7 yrs as a Mama. Granola bars that is. Some are good, some soft and some…well…a little on the Crispy Crunch side. My goals always include: no sugar, lots of nuts, an alternative to wheat flour. And, thus far I’ve attained these goals. The rationale is that granola bars in their basic sense (or at least in my quirky mind) are intended to be energy-enhancing, protein-full, dense squares (or rectangles, whatever)…easy and readily available for that snack in the middle of a bike ride, park play, or walk.
But they don’t always love them.
Or if one likes them the other doesn’t.
And that all changed this past weekend and I’d like to give myself a pat on the back. One said they were now his first favourite…the other said they were second in line. (The reason being that his favourite – still a memory from his third year of life – were chock…I mean chock, people…full of honey and peanut butter. And, while I use nuts-only butters this was a little over the top.
The recipe in his original form is found here.
Now, I would like to share a few pearls of wisdom I’ve learned along my granola-bar-making-way. Perhaps you’re smarter than I, and this will be redundant…but humour me.
First off: always always always toast those oats (I toast the nuts and seeds simultaneously). This brings out the flavour in everything and adds a bit of crunch in the finished product.
If you’re looking for a binder and you feel there’s enough honey or oil or butter, use an egg. Seriously, you can’t go wrong. More protein, less crumble, and it won’t alter the flavour.
Go nuts with the spices, namely cinnamon and nutmeg. We have a fantastic apple pie spice (only) which we love too.
Always cut your granola bars while they are still warm. Don’t attempt it when they first come out of the over when you want to dive right in because of that fantastic smell. Wait five or ten minutes until they are still nice and warm but neither piping hot nor completely cooled. If they are the latter they will crumble, the former will allow for lots of breakage also. If you do cut them while they are either too hot or cold, eating the bits and pieces
culminating with your realization that half the bars are gone, you’ll have a good little snack.
Always add more (and different!) nuts and seeds than the recipe calls for…and if they’re whole (such as almonds and walnuts) chop them into chunks. Oh – coconut (unsweetened) always add a great texture and lots of protein!
I have found that if I bake my granola bars for the time called in the (original) recipes, they are always a little harder than we like. So, as a rule of thumb I maintain the called for temperature but decrease the baking time by 5-10 minutes. If they are brown around the edges, for the love take them out of the oven.
Are you beginning to feel that I may never actually post this winner of a snack? …Okay, here we go…
Award Winning First And Second Favourite Granola Bars
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup flax meal
- 1 cup flour (I would put my money on oat or spelt flours being great here…alternatively, it wouldn’t hurt simply to add another cup of oats as a substitute.)
- scant 1/2 cup butter (real butter, people!)
- scant 1/2 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. As the oven is preheating, make the most of that time by putting the oats, sunflower seeds, and walnut pieces in your (to-be-used-later…I hate dishes!) 9×11 baking pan. I love my pyrex bakeware for these. Throw them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn. As they are toasting mix the remaining ingredients. When you’ve removed the oats mixture (it doesn’t matter if it’s still warm) add it to the already-mixed ingredients. Stir until completely mixed. Press into your 9×11 (greased!) dish/pan. Bake 25 minutes (this is the actual time I bake mine). Leave on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then cut into pieces.
As I don’t have any foodie pictures to share, I’ll just include (another) one of the cutie patooties. What’s a post without photos, right?