Monday, January 9, 2012

Granola Bars

For a long time, I cooked my dinners (and by extension, my lunches, since those are just leftovers), but I was still buying snacks and breakfast foods. Primarily, I bought granola and granola/protein bars and used them both as mid-morning snacks and meal substitutes on days when I was too busy or unmotivated or whatever to cook dinner.

Then I realized this was stupid. Here I was, endeavoring to make frugal, healthy, whole food meals, but eating expensive junky granola and protein bars. Seriously, that was the largest part of my food budget. Those things are freaking expensive.

And I thought, I can make soup from tomatoes I've grown myself. I can make bread and pasta and enchiladas and cookies from scratch. None of this stuff is actually hard to do. Why the heck am I shelling out all this money on granola bars when surely I can make healthier ones myself for much cheaper?

Yeah. It is ridiculously easy to make these things from scratch. I seriously probably spend as much time on prep for these as I used to spend dithering in the aisle at Sam's Club trying to figure out which box of bars provided the best nutritional value for the money (answer: none of them).

I bought the e-cookbook Healthy Snacks to Go by Katie Kimball at Kitchen Stewardship, and the below granola bar recipe is adapted from there. I highly recommend the book (I mean, it's only five dollars apparently I got it on sale. It's actually $6.95.) to anyone interested in homemade snacks. I usually use her granola recipe and protein bars recipe, as well, and if you are a Larabar fan, she has pages of recipes for making your own versions of their different flavors, too. Someone gave me a bag of dates recently and I think they are destined for a Larabar experiment. Also: homemade Wheat Thin crackers.

Alternatively, you can google a lot of this for free. So. You know.

Without further ado:

Homemade Granola Bars

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, 2/3 cup honey (Katie's recipe calls for a full cup but that was too sweet for us), and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl in the microwave (or on the stove if for some reason you'd rather handwash a pot than dishwasherify a bowl). I do this at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, and it takes maybe 2-3 minutes.

(If you want peanut butter granola bars, substitute 1/2 cup peanut butter for 1/2 cup of the butter.)

It will look like this.
Meanwhile, mix together in a large bowl 4 1/2 cups of oats (yes, I just use instant oatmeal oats), 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 cups of mix-ins.

Dry ingredients.
Mix-ins are whatever you like in a granola bar. For this batch I used chocolate chips, dried cherries, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, and chopped (well, pestled) almonds. I think it was one cup chocolate chips and then the rest together made one cup. You could use different flavors of chocolate chips, different nuts or dried fruit, whatever. I used all these things because I was almost out of all of them, so I just dumped in the bits I had left. Use what you have on hand, or plot out a delicious flavor combo and acquire those ingredients.

Pour your butter/honey mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, until all the dry ingredients are moistened.

Before baking.
Press into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brownish and somewhat dried out. They will probably still be sort of moist, which to me is a plus. Let cool in the pan for at least ten minutes before cutting. Slice and store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

(I'll try and remember to take a picture of the finished bars and stick that in here.)

They should last a month or so on your counter just fine (depending, I guess, on what you use for mix-ins) or longer in the fridge.

The DDH loves these things. He thinks they are more filling and satisfying than my homemade protein bars (strangely) and on par with the big Power Bar things he always requested before.

I love them also, but they are definitely sweet. Skipping the chocolate chips would help, but a lot of it is the honey, too. I'm not sure if you can cut back on the volume any more without affecting the consistency of the bar. You could try substituting unsweetened applesauce maybe for some of the honey, or coconut oil maybe? Things to experiment with. ^_^

1 comment:

  1. Katie, your homemade granola bars look great! We thought that you might be interested in checking out our Simply Delicious Meals Raisin Granola,, for a quick and nutritious snack. You also might be interested in our free e-cookbook: Fresh, Fast and Fabulous, Thanks for shopping at Sam’s Club and let us know if you try them.
    – Carrie from Sam’s Club



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