Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Make Your Own Granola Bars!

I can’t tell you how excited I am!  Well, I’m sure that it’s not the most exciting news ever, but it’s still pretty cool.  I have been making my own granola bars for the past three weeks now, at a fraction of the cost per batch that I was paying for a box of commercially produced granola bars. 

Due to my gluten-intolerance, I need to eat a gluten-free diet, and as most folks are aware who purchase gluten-free pre-made foods at the store (especially if you try to go as healthy as possible), they can get very expensive.  The bars that I was buying were averaging $5-6/box easily, and with the addition of the regular ones that I was buying for my husband (who has no food allergies), we were probably spending about $8-10/week just on granola bars and/or cereal bars.  Convenient?  Yes.  Economical?  No way.  

As with my last week’s post about making a “draft dodger” to halt the cold draft below my front door, I was recently inspired to make my own granola bars based on a post that I came across in my personal Twitter feed.  I have to give a shout out to “Homestead Honey” for her video that she tweeted about a month ago, demonstrating how she made her own granola bars.  I thought, “What a great idea!” and a couple of weeks ago I was inspired to start making some myself.

I wanted to find a similar recipe to follow, so I found this one after searching online for a bit, and I tweaked it slightly.  The bars are tasty, easy, and I love that you can add just about anything you want to the basic dough to make these bars your own creation.  I also love that I know exactly what is in them, and I don’t have to worry about consuming any unhealthy ingredients. 

I have added semi-sweet chocolate chips (I have learned that the regular kind works best, not the miniature kind- they seem to somehow melt out of existence during the baking process), shredded coconut, raisins, chopped peanuts, and chopped almonds to the dough, and so far, all of the batches that I’ve made have been quite tasty. 

Although I’ve never tried, you could also use almond butter or another type of nut butter instead of the peanut butter, and it would probably work just as well.

To my gluten-free readers:  This recipe calls for oats, which some people with gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease do not tolerate well.  For some people, this has to do with reacting negatively to the protein that exists within the oats themselves, while for other people, this has to do with a potential problem of cross-contamination with gluten-containing products that can occur in some manufacturing facilities.  If you are unsure whether or not you should consume oats, please avoid eating these bars and other oat-based foods until you are certain that you can tolerate them. 

I have found that for myself, as long as I get my oats from reputable sources that do not have issues with cross-contamination, I have done fine with consuming oatsand have not experienced any negative reactions.  As with any food source, it is a good idea to do research on the manufacturers of the products that you purchase.  If you grow your own oats and know exactly where they came from, to you I say, “Rock on!”

Money-saving tip:  Buy your supplies in bulk!  If you get hooked on these yummy bars and get into the routine of making them all of the time like I do, you will save a lot of money by buying your oats and other ingredients in bulk.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
(Makes an estimated 16-18 bars, depending on the bar size)


(From upper left to lower right) Peanuts, chia seeds, honey, oats,
semisweet chocolate chips, and peanut butter
Shredded coconut and raisins

3 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
½ cup chopped nuts of your choice
¾ cup natural peanut butter
½ cup honey

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9x13 baking pan.

2.  Mix together the peanut butter and honey in a small saucepan, and heat on low.  Stir mixture frequently while heating until it turns slightly runny and creamy.

3.  Mix together the oats, chia seeds, chopped nuts, and any additional ingredients you wish to add (possible ideas for add-ins include chocolate chips, dried fruit, flax seeds, shredded coconut, etc.… go wild!) within a large bowl.  Pour the peanut butter-honey mixture over the dried ingredients and stir (using your hands to mix the ingredients together seems to be the easiest way to mix everything well).  The mixture should be pretty sticky, not crumbly.  Add in a bit more peanut butter to the mixture as needed if your dough is crumbling apart. 

4.  Transfer the dough to your greased pan, and press it firmly into the pan.  Rolling a rolling pin over parchment paper that covers the top of the dough has been an effective method for me.

As you can see, this granola “cake” that I made doesn’t take up the entire 9x13 inch pan.  I personally prefer thicker granola bars, but you may wish to try rolling the dough out further to make thinner bars.   Thinner bars might crumble apart more easily, but it might be worth some experimentation.

5.  Bake your granola bar “cake” on the center rack of your oven for about 25 minutes, or just until it is slightly browned.

6.  Remove from the oven, and cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Place a second wire rack over the top of the “cake” and flip it over.  Tap on the bottom of the pan or use a butter knife to loosen up the granola cake so it will easily come out of your pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

7.  Once the granola cake has completely cooled, you can cut it into bars or squares on a cutting board.

Umm… tasty!!!!!! Granola-y!!!!!

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