Granola Bars

Today’s adventure….homemade granola bars.  The ones you get in the store never seem to be exactly the mix of things you want, and full of all sorts of weird ingredients on top of it.  Thanks to www.100daysofrealfood.com (I have a feeling they are going to be getting a lot of thanks as they have so many good ideas!).

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup raw cashew pieces (or walnuts or pecans)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Also need – parchment paper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix the dry oats, almonds, cashews, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large mixing bowl. Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts stir in the vanilla.  Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.  Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer.  Bake for 75 minutes.  The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces.  Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Notes:

I did a lot of variation on this original recipe.  Part of it was encouraged on the original webpage where I found it and some of it was last minute mistakes 🙂  The original site said to experiment with the different nuts/seeds and also to add dried fruit.  So, I substituted soy nuts for the walnuts or cashews since neither sounded good to me.  I used a full cup of sunflower seeds because I don’t like pumpkin seeds.  I added a bag of regular Craisins.  Then I ran out of honey, so I went online and found you can substitute a combination of pure maple syrup and regular granulated sugar, so I used about 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of the maple syrup/sugar combo.  I had regular salted butter on hand so that is what I used (not unsalted).  The original site said you won’t get perfect rectangles and they were right – it definitely sort of just breaks wherever it wants, even if you try and cut it.  I found that squares worked slightly better than traditional rectangles, but even those tended to be crumbly around the edges.

Opinion:

Having said all that….they taste WONDERFUL!  Bob cracked up at me, because I picked up a little broken piece to test it out and got completely distracted from the conversation we were having as I went back to break off more for another taste.  They are definitely messy (you won’t be able to casually eat one while you’re doing something else like you might be able to with a store-bought granola bar), but the taste is well worth it.  I think you could have a lot of fun with variations on the nuts/seeds/fruits.  I will definitely make this again.

Addendum:

I’ve been experimenting with ways to try and make them a little less crumbly so that they are easier to eat.  I tried adding molasses but I did not like the taste.  Next I tried adding a larger ratio of the honey/butter/vanilla mixture.  First attempt I did 1 1/2 the original amount.  It isn’t bad (still tastes ok!) but it’s a little wet.  Next time I will try 1 1/4 and see how that works.

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