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Monday, November 5, 2012

Better than Quaker

I did a lot of cooking in my kitchen this weekend. I made bread, bread mixes, chocolate syrup, cappuccino mix, pumpkin puree (coming soon!) and granola bars. Now I’m tired…

I posted a picture on facebook a couple weeks ago of some beautiful granola bars. I made those without peanuts and we went right through them. This time I made 1 batch with no nuts (so my daughter could take them to school) and a double batch with nuts.

Why make them from scratch when you can buy them?
My main reason... do you know what is in these things?! food dyes and preservatives just don't sound that appetizing to me. And it is surprisingly easy to do. Has anyone else noticed that the staples that need to be in your pantry are really simple to put together yourself... but I regress.

I am positively in love with homemade granola bars! They are so easy and practically impossible to mess up. Just throw everything you have together in a bowl and add the sugar to hold it together. I originally gathered a couple recipes together to figure out what I liked to do and how. They are all really similar, but some require cooking in an oven while some don’t. Here is the recipe that I have adjusted to use the most:

Thick & Chewy Granola Bars – no bake

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats 
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (use less if using Peanut Butter)
1/3 cup almond flour or oat flour (put almonds/oats in blender until you get a powder)
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups miscellaneous stuff (i.e. I like to add cranberries, raisins, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, nuts, flax seeds, chai seeds, rice cereal and whatever else I have on hand)
1/3 cup peanut butter or other nut butter (if you don't want any nut butter, increase the sugar. But I like to add sunflower seed butter to my no-nut version)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1.    Stir dry ingredients in large bowl. Everything except the chocolate chips.
I like to put the seeds in the blender to
disguise them from the kids.

2.       Melt oil, honey, nut butter, and sugar until bubbly, for no more than two minutes.  Stir constantly. Let mixture cool for 2-3 minutes, then add vanilla and stir.

3.       Pour liquid mixture over dry mixture and stir thoroughly so that the oats and cereal are all coated.

After it is well mixed, I like to let it cool a moment before adding mini chocolate chips. They will melt a little, but I find that it is better to mix the chocolate together with the mix rather than add it to the top before pressing to avoid a melted chocolate mess on top.
4.       Pour mixture into pan. Press down to pack it all down good.

I like to put foil or plastic wrap in the pan so I don’t have to grease it and run the risk of bars coming apart when I am trying to take them out of the pan. I also use a piece of plastic wrap to press the granola down so I don’t have to get my hands dirty.

5.       Place granola bars in refrigerator until set. Then you can cut them. 
can you see my cut marks in the No-Nut version?
I like to make bars, but you can make squares or triangles if you like.
In this picture you can see the Nut version.
I took the foil/bars out of the container to cut
them and put them in ziplock bags.
6.       Store in the fridge or at room temperature. I like to put them in ziplock bags for easy kid snacks and store them in a Tupperware for easy kid access. I am also thinking that they save a little longer this way since I have noticed that they save 3 weeks with no problems.
You can see my beautiful labels. "NN" for No Nuts.
It might seem like a huge waste of baggies, but these bags are easily cleaned and reused. I have gotten in the habit of turning baggies inside out to wash with soap and water before letting air dry when the only thing inside them are silly things like granola or raisins or crackers or... you get the idea.

If you haven't tried this before. Take a couple minutes to whip up a batch!

Shared at Recipe Exchange, Homemade Monday, Mop it Monday, Homemade Monday, Monday Mania DIY Home Sweet HomeCheerios & Lattes, Saturday Seven and Frugally Sustainable.