If you’ve done much reading on this blog, you know that I love to cook and eat delicious foods. Unfortunately, they’re not all the healthiest choices, so my husband and I have decided to make more of an effort to plan healthy, lower-fat, lower starch, higher fiber, more veggie-filled meals. I also made a list of healthful snacks we should try to have on hand.
On the list was granola bars.
But do you know what??? They’re not all healthy! Some of the granola bars you can buy in stores may as well be candy bars, with the amount of sugar and “fluff” they include in their ingredients. And most of them (except Kashi) also have high fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient. Disgusting. While I love Kashi granola bars, the guy and I tend to go through a bunch of those, so it gets pretty expensive.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands. After reading tons of granola bar recipes (and throwing out the ones that sounded like disguised candy), I came up with my own mixture that works deliciously well to create healthful, filling granola bars. If I eat half of one of these and a small piece of fruit, I’m good to go for several hours. And it makes me happy knowing that I didn’t eat anything disgusting to feel full.
So here’s my recipe. Let me know if you try it out!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gather your ingredients:
- 2 cups oats
- 3/4 cup wheat germ
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup peanuts, crushed
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- approximately 8 oz. dried fruit
To crush your peanuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup, or sauce pan.
Then, mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.
Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 11 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray.
Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. (I forgot to take a picture of this step, but it looks so pretty!)
By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit. Oh, and turn off your oven, because you’re finished with it now.
Mix everything REALLY WELL because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.
Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.
Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled.
Then, open the waxed paper …
And carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper.
Now, firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like.
I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper (so they don’t stick together).
Of course, you can mix up the recipe. I used peanuts because they’re what we had, but next time I’m going to make the granola nutless at first, but during the pressing-down part, I plan to press almonds into the top of the bars.
Another combo that would be fun to try is macadamia nuts, dried pineapple, and coconut flakes.
Or try dried cranberries, walnuts, and white chocolate chips (just a few).
I also plan to add flax seed to my granola mix.
Different flavors of honey would also probably change the final outcome too. Mmm…
So many options! Good thing we have time!