|Do you see all the deliciousness?!?!?!|
These delicious bars are DANGEROUS--YUMMMMMMMMMMY!!!!!!!!
Thanks to Stephanie who was inspired by Smitten Kitchen I gave these a whirl.
Actually, I was so excited to make these after reading nearly 300 of the 500+ comments left on the Smitten blog, that I went to the store deliberately to get some add-ins for my attempt at this experiment.
I have a standardized test tomorrow that will be at least three hours, and I have to leave practice early in order to make the test. So, I'm sure that it will rain tomorrow (of course), we are going to be in helmets and shoulder pads, and then I have to haul across town to my testing location (eating/changing in my car on the way). I do not envy anyone who has to sit by me. Besides the fact I've been studying all week (I really hate history--I suck at rote memorization) and I hate standardized tests in general, especially since in Wisconsin I am certified to teach 6-12th grade, but here in Oregon, I guess that the teaching commission is in bed with the testing company, because I am only certified 9-12. In order to be able to teach 6-8 I have to take a test. (and pass it!)
I need something to eat between practice and test that is easy and semi-on-plan. I want to do better on the weekends, and this seemed like a perfect alternative to any granola/protein bar I could buy in a store. My tweaks are in italics as always, and I am really hoping that L likes them.
Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
|Dry mixing with wet...|
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar) (I used 1/3 C brown sugar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (+more!)
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
(I used: 1C Kashi 7Whole Grain Puffs; 1/4 C pumpkin seeds; 1/4 C sunflower seeds; 2 TBSP flax seeds; 1/4 C golden raisins; 1/4 C dried dates; 1/2 (a little less) of dried cranberry-pomegranates 2/3 C sliced almonds)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I used honey + a little more)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I used molasses instead-- based on the comments I read and thought this would go well with all the other ingredients that I included.)
1 tablespoon water
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts (I did this with the paddle in my KitchenAid mixer). In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.) (I pressed the hell out of it. I used my fingers, my hands, a spatula, and I went at it for a while--after reading the comments I didn't want mine to crumble.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes (35 minutes), until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
|Packed in. Hands, fingers, and spatula squishing!|
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.) (I did this--I was dying to know how they would cut!)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares.
If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried pples or even chocolate chips.
Smitten got 16 bars from this batch. I got 18--but I have serious issues with cutting/portioning equally.
With MY ingredients, this would come out to 6 pts+/bar. I would normally balk at such a number for a snack, but as I look at the ingredients, I know this is healthy, non-processed, and I'd rather spend the points on something I know is good for me. I wonder about tweaking this recipe even more to lower the value, but what would be the point?
|Out of the pan after about 20 minutes. On a wire rack.|
*Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
*Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75- 800 times more lignans than other plant foods
*Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
Pumpkin seeds are one of nature's almost perfect foods. They are a natural source of beneficial constituents such as carbohydrates, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. They contain most of the B vitamins, along with C, D, E, and K. They also have the minerals calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
*Sunflower seeds and oil contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat – the types of fat that may protect the heart. Clinical studies show that higher unsaturated fat diets may be preferable even to low-fat diets because they lower total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, while maintaining beneficial high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is needed to carry the “bad” cholesterol away.(1-2) • Almost 90% of the fat in sunflower seeds is good, unsaturated fat.
*Protein supplies amino acids, the building blocks that build, maintain and repair body tissues. Sunflower seeds are a good source of plant protein.
*Selenium works with vitamin E as an antioxidant and protects cells from damage that may lead to cancer, heart disease, and other health problems.
*Copper helps the body carry oxygen to red blood cells and produce energy in the cells. Copper is also a vital part of some antioxidant enzymes in the body, thus protecting from oxidative stress. While a copper deficiency is rare, this trace mineral is essential to an energy-rich life.
*Folate, a B vitamin, plays an essential role in making new body cells by helping to form the DNA and RNA that contain each cell’s “master plan” for reproduction. Folate also pairs with vitamin B-12 to help form hemoglobin in red blood cells, which allows them to carry optimal amounts of oxygen. Folate is involved in the removal of homocysteine, an amino acid thought to promote heart disease, from the blood. A large population study from Harvard University shows an association between higher intakes of folate and lower risk of heart disease.
*Other B vitamins are essential for producing energy from food. Sunflower seeds contain pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, thiamin and niacin.
*Zinc is a mineral that is vital for keeping your immune system strong, fending off infections and healing wounds.
*Iron is essential in carrying oxygen from the lungs, through the blood, and to every body cell.
*Fiber – the indigestible part of plant foods – promotes good health by helping to lower blood cholesterol, manage blood glucose and prevent constipation.
Almonds are a unique package of nutrients – a good source of protein (6 grams per one ounce) along with dietary fiber, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and vitamin E. In fact, one ounce of almonds provides about 7.4 grams of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, 50 percent of the RDA. Almonds are the only good source of protein that is also an excellent source of vitamin E.
Sure, the dried fruits and sugar are not the greatest, but far better than what is in one of these:
IngredientsGRANOLA (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, BROWN SUGAR, CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT], WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, SOYBEAN OIL, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SODIUM BICARBONATE, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NONFAT DRY MILK), CORN SYRUP, BROWN RICE CRISP (WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE, SUGAR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, SALT), SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHUNKS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLIN [AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR]), SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, GLYCERIN, INVERT SUGAR, DRIED RED TART CHERRIES.CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SOYBEAN OIL, SORBITOL, CALCIUM CARBONATE, SALT, RICE FLOUR, MOLASSES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SOY LECITHIN, MALIC ACID, BHT (PRESERVATIVE).
CONTAINS WHEAT, MILK AND SOY INGREDIENTS.
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF PEANUT AND TREE NUTS.
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF PEANUT AND TREE NUTS.
Sure, one of these bars is 3 pts+, but at what cost??
This was an extremely easy recipe--seriously. And I am looking forward to trying different combination of add-ins to see what my favorite will be--I already have dried blueberries, strawberries, and cherries for my next batch!
I just hope to hear from someone and what they tried!! I love learning new things!!!