If you've been following along for a while, you may have noticed a slight shift in my recipes over the last year. For example, I strive to use organic ingredients as much as possible. I have also made the switch to natural, plant-based food coloring, choosing to avoid artificial food coloring ever since an unsettling blue frosting incident (you don't want to know). Because one of my kids seems to have a strong sensitivity to granulated sugar, I've been experimenting with alternative sweeteners such as honey, brown rice syrup, and maple sugar.
There are many upsides to adopting a more natural diet. But, as you can imagine, organic foods can sometimes be more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. In my experience, this is especially true when it comes to kid-friendly items like crackers and snacks.
Enter the homemade granola bar. So easy and inexpensive to make from scratch, I haven't purchased the (outrageously overpriced) store-bought variety in months.
Most importantly, everyone absolutely loves these. My neighbors tried to convince me to start a business selling them. When I brought a double-batch on a camping trip with friends, they were gone in 15 minutes. And my children's classmates have begun asking when I will be making them next, and could my kids bring some to school?
As a bonus, the original recipe was gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free. I have further adapted it to eliminate most of the refined sugar, as well. So, all you readers with food allergies? I've got you covered. And all you lucky readers who are able to eat whatever you like? These chewy-crispy granola bars are da bomb. (I can't really carry that off, can I? Oh well. Just know that I've got you covered, too.)
Chewy Granola Bar Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Alana Elliott of Nonuttin' Foods
Great for snacks, school lunches, camping, or with a glass of milk and some fruit for breakfast. Infinitely adaptable (see two variations, below). Easily doubled.
Use organic whenever possible.
vegetable oil, margarine or nonstick cooking spray
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup crisp-rice cereal
3/4 cup puffed whole grain rice
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
(OR 1/4 cup maple syrup)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup raw honey OR brown rice syrup
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1. Grease an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with oil, margarine or cooking spray; line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
2. Place oats, crisp rice cereal and puffed rice in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, mix together brown sugar (or maple syrup), oil, honey or brown rice syrup, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add to oat mixture; stir until oat mixture is fully coated and well combined.
4. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and spread evenly, but do not press down! Set aside to cool. When mixture is cool enough to touch, sprinkle with chocolate chips, and press firmly down into pan. Let cool completely to room temperature.
5. Cut into 16 bars, 1" wide by 4" long.
Granola bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.
Yield: 16 Bars
Gluten-free: omit puffed rice. Increase crisp rice cereal to 1 1/4 cups. Make sure all other ingredients are labeled "Gluten-Free."
Date-Pecan: omit chocolate chips. Chop 1/4 cup plain pecans and 2-3 large, pitted Medjool dates. Stir into the oat/rice mixture in Step 2. Proceed with recipe as written, ignoring the addition of chocolate chips in Step 4.
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