Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healthy--and Delicious!--Back-to-School Granola Bars: Two Versions

These two super-easy recipes are adapted from Honey for Health and Beauty, which I reviewed in a previous post (click on the link for the review).  They both are takes on granola bars.  The first is a classic, chewy-crunchy bar without flour or eggs.  The second is a bit more cookie-like, and softer but still very much in the granola bar family.  Even though the Apricot Honey Oat Bars are softer, they're a bit less sweet and so my bet is that kids will prefer the classic Honey Granola Bar recipe.

Honey Granola Bars 
(In Honey for Health and Beauty, the recipe is called "Pack-Along Snack Bars.")
This recipe is not only easy, it's also easy to adapt.  Add 1/2 a cup of raisins, currants or other chopped, dried fruits.  Use walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts or sunflowers instead of (or in addition to!) almonds.  Toss in a handful of dark chocolate chips when you pull the granola out of the oven if you want to make it extra "healthy."  :)

3 cups uncooked rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup flaked coconut (I used unsweetened, but sweetened would work, too)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup almonds (I used 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup walnuts)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, nuts, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate bowl, blend oil, honey and vanilla, mixing well.  Stir honey mixture into dry ingredients and stir well to be sure the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated with the honey mixture.  Spread onto a 9x13 inch pan (no need to grease).  Bake, stirring at 10 minute, 20 minute, 25 minute and 30 minute marks for a total of 35 minutes.  Line a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan with aluminium foil and then grease the foil.  Press hot mixture into the jelly roll pan, pressing it firmly into the pan using a rolling pin.  (It will seem like the mixture won't fit at first, but does.  You also might question whether it will all hold together once it cools, but it does that, too!)  Cool and cut into squares.  Makes about 48, depending on how big you cut them.

Apricot Honey Oat Bars
You can make a super-lean version of these bars (suggestions are in parentheses).  Like the recipe above, this one is also easily adapted to ingredients you have on hand.  About 1/2 cup of nuts would be a nice addition, as would chocolate chips.  Swap out the dried apricots for another dried fruit--or use a mixture. Dried dates would be really good.  The apricot flavor dominates here, so whatever fruit you use will flavor these bars.

1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups uncooked rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt (or any plain yogurt--it's okay to use non-fat)
1 egg (or 2 egg whites), lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, melted (or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.  Pulse dried apricots in a food processor until finely chopped (or chop by hand).  Add the apricots, oats, wheat germ, flour, salt & cinnamon to a large bowl and toss to combine.  In a smaller separate bowl, stir the honey and yogurt together.  Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine well.  Mix in the melted butter, stirring well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and  mix well.  Place in the prepared pan, spreading the mixture to fill in the corners and sides. Bake about 25 minutes until edges are brown and the center is firm.  Cool and cut into 2-inch squares.  Makes 15-20 bars.

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