Thursday, February 21, 2008

Granola Bars

I've been wanting to try my hand at making granola bars for a while now. First reason being, my three-year-old eats at least one bar a day and I'd prefer it be something I've made rather than store-bought. It's cheaper that way and I know exactly what's in them. Also, I travel several times a year and am always looking for handy snacks to stash in my carry-on bag. Now that I'm vegan, it's even more important to have suitable snacks at the ready. Since I'm taking my next trip in about one month, I thought I'd start trying out some recipes now.

For my first crack, I veganized an Alton Brown recipe for granola bars.

Granola Bars

  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, about 2 cups
  • 1 ½ ounces raw sunflower seeds, about ½ cup
  • 3 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 cup (I used slivered almonds)
  • 1 ½ ounces wheat germ, about ½ cup
  • 6 ounces agave nectar, about ½ cup
  • 1 ¾ ounces dark brown sugar, about ¼ cup packed
  • 1-ounce vegan butter spread, plus extra for pan (I just sprayed the pan with a nonfat no-stick spray)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ½ ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries (I used 2 ½ ounces raisins, 2 ounces dried cranberries, and 2 ounces vegan carob chips ... What? ... Carob is totally a fruit.)
  1. Butter a 9x9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, combine agave nectar, brown sugar, butter, extract, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
  4. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

I'd make this recipe again, but I'd change some things. First, I'd use shelled seeds - sunflower or pumpkin - as the shells were fine for me, but my son had trouble getting them sufficiently chewed. Second, I'd reduce the cook time because the bars were a bit too chewy for me - like TMJ syndrome chewy. Or maybe I cooked the sugar mixture too long before adding the oat mixture. I'm not sure.

The flavor was good, but they need some work. I'd like to try using various types of dried fruit as well.

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