Sunday, April 7, 2013

Granola Bars

I like to be efficient. With absolutely everything. I pride myself on my efficiency. If I'm walking through the house, you can bet I'll find a few things to make the walk more productive - picking up socks on the way to the kids' room to put in the hamper, taking a pail of dirty diapers from the kids' room to the door for disposal by Dad, taking mail from the kitchen to the office to be sorted. You get the idea. I don't JUST walk through the house to get from one side to the other.

Even as a baby, Gavyn has had a pretty hoppin' social life. Well, I guess I am the one with the social life - we belong to a parents group that gets together throughout the week for various activities so kids can get together and Mom's can do the same. Staying busy keeps our schedule in line and gets us out of the house - very important especially in the winter months. We go to playdates, gymnastics, holiday events, etc, almost every day of the week. Now that we live in Monticello, I end up driving a little farther than I did in town. So we have a lot of car time, and not as much time at home anymore. My efficient solution: eating in the car!! I know, I know, I should be sitting my toddler down at the table for his meals and snacks so he gets accustomed to that, but we just don't have the time every day. He does eat breakfast, usually lunch, and dinner at the table. But snacks happen wherever we are. Usually, in the car. So I like to find food that is easy to eat on-the-go. This means it has to be finger food, not make a mess (although my toddler can make a mess out of just about anything if he puts his mind to it) and above all else, nutritious!

Often we bring homemade crackers, dried fruit, bananas, string cheese, and other finger snacks. These granola bars are an awesome option as well. They hold together well, meaning less crumbs for me to clean up (although not fool proof by any means!) yet still chewy end soft enough for a toddlers mouth to chew. They are also filled with yummy things. The first time I made these I put loads of dried cranberries and raisins in there. The second time I used pecans, coconut, and cherries. It was basically just a bunch of scraps I had in the cupboard. So yes, I'm made these twice in two weeks. So in a pinch, I can just grab one for the diaper bag and hand it back when it is snack time! They are 100% whole grain, lots of protein, full of fiber, and chemical free :).

They are also relatively economical when it comes to dishes - and you know I like that!

Start with a big bowl and put 1 2/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix together.

I used a combination of brown and white sugar - more brown than white. I also doubled the recipe so in my pictures it might look like more than I am saying in the recipe.

You do have to mix the wet ingredients separately, but since you have to melt the butter anyway, I just did it all in my 2 cup glass measuring cup. It is 6 Tbls. of butter, melted, 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls. honey, and a tablespoon of water.

Add the berries, nuts, coconut, etc. to your dry ingredients first and then add the wet ingredients, along with 1/3 cup peanut butter. 

My baby girl was watching the whole time...

In a 9x13, or smaller pan if you want thicker bars, place a piece of parchment paper and grease it well. This will make getting them out soooo much easier. Totally worth the effort.

Then you bake in the over at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. You want to make sure they are nice and brown around the edges.

Wait for them to cool completely before getting them out and cutting them. I even put mine in the refrigerator.

I stored some of mine in an airtight container, and some I wrapped up individually for taking on the road. Next time I might play around with adding different seeds and maybe even some chocolate. I love that I can just dump whatever I have in my cabinet in there! Also, I don't think it matters what kind of oats you use. The first batch I made with rolled oats and the second with instant and it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I personally like the bite that rolled oats have.

Homemade Granola Bars

1 2/3 cup oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar, white, brown, or both
1-3 cups dried friut, nuts, chocolate, seeds, cocoonut, etc.
 6 Tbsp. of butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. water
1/3 cup peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the fruit/nuts. Mix the melted butter, honey and water together and add to the dry ingredients, along with the peanut butter and mix well. Don't try and use a measuring cup to actually measure the peanut butter - that is a pain to clean. Just use your mixing spoon and get a big ol' hunk of peanut butter in there. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and grease well with butter or oil. Pour in the granola ingredients and pack down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until nice and brown around the edges. Let cool completely before cutting into desired portions.

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