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Organic Granola Bar Recipe

One day, a couple of years ago, I was browsing around a store and came across a cookbook for kids.  Since my daughter isn’t a fan of cooking, and I am, I was hoping the book would be a great way to get her interested in cooking.  When we got home, we looked through the book to see what recipes might be 1) easy to make and 2) would produce an end product that we were excited about trying.  The first recipe we came across that piqued our interest was a “Flapjack” recipe.  Thankfully, this recipe book was chocked full of full color photos, otherwise, I would have dismissed this recipe as a pancake recipe based on its name.  Turns out, some people call granola bars “Flapjacks”.  Since we eat granola bars quite a bit, I was excited about trying homemade granola bars!

Naturally, my daughter helped with the initial prep, but she loses interest really quick, and anytime I try to get her to help me cook in the kitchen, she leaves and says “If you need me, just call me.”…which is her way of saying “I’m outta here and I hope and pray that you don’t call me back!”  (One day I am going to get her to love to cook…ONE DAY!)  Anyhow – I finished the granola bars without her help, and when they were finished we were both very pleased with how tasty they were! 

Organic Granola BarsCut to two years later, and I’m working towards revamping some of my favorite recipes so that they are healthier and use organic ingredients.  The granola bars crossed my mind, and since I had all of the ingredients, plus a few extras that I wanted to add-in, I decided to give it a whirl.  The original recipe called for 1.5 sticks of butter, .5 cups of light brown sugar, 2.5 T. of corn syrup & 3 cups rolled oats.  The recipe you see below is my beefed up version using some of the other items I had on hand. 

The first time I made them, I used the full 1.5 sticks of butter.  While tasty, I felt there was too much butter, and after doing a nutritional analysis of the recipe, I discovered that between the coconut and the butter, this recipe was high in fat (Hey – here’s a great place for this cooking tip:  There are a number of websites with free recipe calculators that allow you to input your recipe ingredients, and the calculator will tell you the nutritional makeup of your recipe). 

So, the second time I made them, I used just .25 cups worth of butter, and added a few splashes of water to add a little more moisture.  I also reduced the amount of brown sugar to .25 cup and used honey instead of corn syrup.  I suppose the butter and sugar cooking together is what makes the granola bar crisp up, so since this time around I had a lot less butter & sugar, it took a long time to get the bars to get that crunchy texture I prefer (after the initial cook time, I lowered the heat to 250 and cooked them for another hour).  These bars were ok – not fabulous – just ok.

The third time I tried them (today), I increased the butter to .5 cup and put the sugar back to the original level.  The bars are great, but again, ingredient analysis shows these to be a bit high in fat and calories.  Nevertheless, because all of the ingredients are healthy ingredients, I have decided that I will probably use the recipe below from now on, and we will just make sure we eat no more than one a day – in fact, I probably could cut these bars into smaller squares the next time I make them.   When I think about the calories and fat in the snack cakes we used to eat, I’ll take these bars as an acceptable substitute that at least has ingredients with healthy benefits.  This was a very long blog, just to get to a granola bar recipe, I admit – but I just wanted to share how I got to this particular recipe and give you some ideas as to changes you could make yourself  Smile

UPDATE:  Since writing this post I have made plain granola bars twice (3 cups oats, .5 cup brown sugar, 2.5 T honey, 1 stick of butter, 1 t. vanilla, .25 t. salt) – they were AWESOME!  Today,  I made the recipe below with ALL of the ingredients, and I found the mixture to be a bit dry.  I may recommend going back to 1.5 sticks of butter if you add in all of the ingredients I have in the recipe below, but I DO NOT recommend 1.5 sticks of butter if you do not add the extras – it would be too much butter.

Ingredients

3 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (Organic)

2.5 T Raw Honey (you can also use organic honey – I used what I had on-hand)

0.5 cup Brown Sugar (Organic)

0.5 cup Golden Flax Seed, Ground (Organic) (I grind my flax seed in my blender)

0.5 cup Shredded, Unsweetened,  Coconut (Organic)

0.25 cup Dried Cranberries (Organic)

0.5 cup Unsalted, Roasted Sunflower Seeds (Organic)

0.5 cup Salted Butter (Organic) [Please see my update above regarding butter]

0.25 t Sea Salt

1 t Vanilla

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. 

In a saucepan, over low heat stir together the butter, sugar and honey.  After 2 – 3 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir well. 

Pour the mixture into a 9×13 cake pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Press down well using a spatula or extra piece of parchment (If you don’t press them well, you will have a very crumbly granola bar).

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, but still slightly soft.  Remove from the oven, and let rest for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, cut into squares and allow to cool completely in the pan.  The original recipe said this recipe makes appx. 18 bars.   I use a pizza cutter to cut the rows.  (This is what is pictured above – I took the picture with my phone – the golden brown color does not show through very well, but they should be golden brown when you remove them from the oven).

After cooling, carefully remove the bars from the pan using a knife.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week (if they last that long).

If you make this recipe, I hope you enjoy – let me know how it goes!

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October 3rd, 2010
Topic: Health & Food, Nutrition, Recipes Tags: , , , , ,

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