Monday, May 18, 2015

Granola Bars

This is a quick and easy snack that is as satisfying as it is delicious. I was looking for a healthy something for my friend, Matt, and I happened upon this granola recipe from Alton Brown. To be quite honest, I'm not a health expert, but these bars certainly seem like they're packed with all kinds of "good for you". Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, grains, and just enough sweet to bring it all together. Works for me!! They're perfect for a quick breakfast on the go or and easy mid-afternoon snack to hold you over until dinner. So go ahead and give 'em a try.
They're so chewy and tasty, you'll forget that they're good for you!
I'm glad you liked them, Matt!

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1 ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries

 Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. 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 the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

To make them in a 9x13 pan, simply increase all the amounts by half, and bake as directed.
To perfectly flatten them in your pan, butter the bottom of a smaller pan, and then press it down on top of the granola before baking. You'll have a perfectly smooth top.
This recipe lends itself to any number of variations. I used pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds, and I use dried berries and mangoes. I also added a little bit of cinnamon. YUM!

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