Friday, January 14, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

My three-year-old son has gone bananas for commercial granola bars. Eschewing his routine items of choice (cornflakes or oatmeal), he's even savored them for breakfast.  I wince a little every time I reach into the box for one.  Thankfully, they contain no preservatives or E numbers, but they're not exactly all natural or as low in sugar as I'd like them to be.

So when I ran across this recipe I knew it was time to make my own.  A granola bar that I can feel better about giving to my child.  It still has some fun stuff like chocolate chips and honey, but it's also loaded with plenty of wholesome goodness such as rolled oats, nuts, a variety of seeds, and dried fruit.  What's more, this is a great one to tweak as you see fit.  Substitute other dried fruits, nuts, and even sweeteners.  For example, maple or agave syrup would be great instead of honey.

If you are looking for a recipe to make with your kids, this is an excellent one, too.  They'll love pouring the different ingredients into a big bowl and then using a wooden spoon to mix it all together before you (it takes a strong grown up hand) stir in the wet mix and combine.

By the way, the date-prune-honey butter would make a delicious spread on warm scones or biscuits. So think about making two batches - one for the granola bars and one to keep in your fridge.

Homemade Granola Bars
Inspired by Julie at Dinner with Julie

Wet Mix
1/2c butter, cut in small pieces
1/2c honey
1/4c prunes, chopped
1/4c dates, chopped

Dry Mix
3c rolled oats (the old fashioned kind)
1c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4c flour
1/4c (scant) brown sugar
1/2c dried cranberries or cherries
1/2c pumpkin seeds
1/2c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4c sesame seeds
1/8c poppy seeds
1t baking soda


Preheat oven to 325F

1.  In a food processor pulse the prunes and dates for 1 minute.  You might end up with a big sticky mass, but that's okay.

2.  Add butter a little at a time and pulse some more.  Incorporate well.

3.  With machine running, add honey through top opening.  Mix 1 minute.  Set aside.

4.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.

5.  Fold in wet mix until dry mix is well coated and moist throughout.

6.  Turn into a 9" x13" parchment-lined pan and press down with your hands.

7.  Bake 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan 30 minutes; remove (with paper) to cooling rack.

8.  When completely cool, cut into bars.  It is important to not try to cut into bars until completely cool - otherwise you risk little pieces falling off.

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