Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chewy granola bars

As promised I've got some recipes to share. Plus some fantastic photography.

I'm not sure I should call these bars granola bars since I didn't make them using granola. Oh well, what I should call them is seriously tasty. I've been on the hunt for some time now for a bar snack I could send the girls to school with that they love. I've been done with buying the processed ones (even though so-called 'healthier versions') so we've been making due with extra fruit and veggie snacks. The girls come home starved those days though, and I knew I needed to get back to the drawing board.

The problem is that I needed them to fit the following criteria:

- They needed to be chewy
- They needed to NOT be made with a ton of sugar or any seriously refined sugar
- They needed to actually *stick* in the form of a bar (which seemed to hard to find without using a lot of sugar, which violated my second criteria
- The girls needed to love them.
- No peanuts or nuts (although that one I could easily get around by using sunflower seed butter)

So I have made several batches. Some Grace ate in the form of granola. Some no one wanted to eat. Some were hard as a rock and some were so nutritionally dense (and not in a good way) that I didn't want anyone eating them.

So enter Chocolate Covered Katie. Oh, haven't you met? She's this amazing food blogger who pretty much takes every little fun treat and flips it around to include healthy ingredients. Because life is so much more fun when you get dessert. She's done everything from Copycat recipes (reeses and oreos anyone?) to perfect little individual cakes. Obviously desserts are still desserts and should be consumed once in a while and not every day, but with these recipes you can indulge without twelve million ingredients that you can't even pronounce. The reeses? I can vouch that they genuinely taste like the famous ones. Even my kids will tell you. Anyway, I'm getting off point. Her 'copycat' for the Quaker bars is pretty much the first bar recipe that actually worked. Met all the criteria, and I'm pretty excited for trying out different varieties in the future and adding other fun things like flax and chia.

Copycat Recipe- Quaker-style chewy granola bars - courtesy of my favorite dessert blogger. Seriously, she rocks.

Sorry for my horrible picture. Looks good though right? Sorry, this one's mine. 

So as usual, I'm going to share the link to the original, but what I'm posting is how I made them. Check out her site for other substitution information, as well as a 'no bake' and gluten free options. Did I mention how awesome she is?

Quaker-Style Chewy Granola Bars
  • 1 cup rolled oats 
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup brown rice crispies (I used sprouts version. Ingredients list: whole brown rice)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp oat flour (I'm assuming you could mix this up with things like almond or coconut meal or other flours)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbls coconut sugar (or other sweetener of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp applesauce (banana would probably work as well, or pumpkin!)
  • Ideas for the add-ins: mini chocolate chips, chopped raisins or other dried fruit, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all dry ingredients and mix very well. (If you don’t have oat flour: simply grind rolled oats in a food processor to make oat flour. Be sure to measure the correct amount of flour for the recipe after grinding, not before.) In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Stir wet into dry and use another sheet of parchment (or wax) paper to squish evenly-coated mixture into a parchment-lined 7×5 pan (or double the recipe for a 9×13). Squish very, very hard, with a can or something heavy. Bake 18 minutes, then squish very hard again. Cool in the fridge for at least ten minutes before cutting into bars. (I just let them cool on the counter though it was hard to be patient)

*My notes* - I used mini Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips and finely shredded coconut as my mix-ins. 1/4 cup each. I felt like I could taste each of these items just fine with these measurements. I doubled the recipe and used a 9x13 plus a SECOND 9x13 to use for pressing down. I LITERALLY stood on top of it. I think, in all honesty, this is probably where I ran into issues with granola bars in the past, not pressing the mixture down enough. I might consider cutting back a wee bit more on the sugar next time, and upping the applesauce a tiny bit. Plus, I'll probably play around with adding flax and wheat germ and a few other healthier mix ins. For now though, we're all enjoying these.  
But with doubling the recipe, I got 20 bars, comparable in size to the Quaker brand version. I individually wrapped these and stuck them in the freezer. I'll stick them in their bags for lunches or snacks. I don't send them this type of stuff everyday. However, at our school snacks must be fairly portable since the kids eat them outside before recess. 
So enjoy! If you make them, please share what you mixed in and how you liked them!

Here is how they stack up:
This version has: 124 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber

Quaker version has: 100 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber. (Plus they have all the following as well)

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