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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No-Bake Granola Bars


 

We like granola bars and have gone through hundreds or possibly thousands of boxes through the years with school lunches and the like.  Granola bars were and are touted a healthy choice for children and adults but many commercial granola bars are merely candy bars in disguise and have no nutritional merit apart from the cereal that forms the base.  I think, if you are going to eat a granola bar it should have a few more redeeming qualities than just sugar coated oatmeal.  (That last statement takes care of my conscience.)

I came across this no-bake recipe some years ago and it has been one of my favourite granola bar recipes since.  I can't even remember where I found this so I can't give credit but I thank whoever posted or wrote this recipe because it is so good.  It does contain sugar and honey so it's not as healthy as some but I did replace the original ingredient of butter with oil to make it a little more heart healthy.   Anyway, a person should eat only one granola bar at a time, right! 

Apart from the sugar and fat, these bars are stuffed with dried fruit and nuts giving you a compact nutritional boost along with the treat of eating a bar.  As with most granola bars, I would serve these as a dessert as opposed to a healthy snack or meal replacement. 

These bars are no-bake but you do have to cook them on the stove top which will take a few minutes but well worth the time and effort.


No-Bake Granola Bars
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup honey
¼ cup water
½ cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup toasted chopped nuts (combination of anything you like)
1 cup wheat germ
¼ cup sesame seeds or flax seeds
1½ cup dried fruit, chopped if large (combination of anything you like)

Prepare a 9x13-inch pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.  

Toast nuts in 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Chop when cool.  The nuts should not be too fine but should be in small pieces.

In a large pan, combine sugar, honey, water, oil, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Do not bring to a rolling boil. Stir in oats, nuts, wheat germ, and sesame seeds. Cook, over low heat, stirring frequently, for 12 minutes. (Be very careful not to let the oat mixture burn.) Remove from heat and add fruit. 

Pile hot mixture onto the prepared pan. Press evenly to fill the pan.  Score the "dough" into bars of desired size, so you can re-cut along  lines when cool. Allow to cool for about 1 hour or until no longer warm. Re-cut along score lines. Store in an airtight container.  You may also wrap bars individually in waxed paper.


I like to line my pans with parchment paper because it's almost 100% stick proof.  Everything removes so easily.


Prepare the nuts by toasting and chopping.  I used a mixture of nuts (walnuts, brazil, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds and a scattering of pistachios).  I them bought at the bulk department of my grocery store.  You don't need the nuts finely chopped but they should be in small pieces.


Bring the sugar, honey, water, oil and salt to a simmer.  Cook 5 minutes but do not boil or else the liquids will evaporate and make the bars crumbly.


After 5 minutes add the oats, wheat germ, sesame or flax seeds and nuts.  Cook over low heat, stir occasionally.  The heat should be low enough so the mixture will not stick and burn on the pot.  

When the mixture has cooked 15 minutes remove from heat and add the dried fruit.  I used dried blueberries, cherries, golden and sultana raisins. Chop any large fruit. 


 Pile the "dough" onto the prepared pan.


Spread out and smooth the top.  A flat bottomed measuring cup is very useful for spreading the hot mixture.

Chocolate chips are not in the ingredient list but I sprinkled half the hot “dough” with a handful of chocolate chips and spread them over the bars when they had melted.


 
Cut through the "dough" while it is still warm.  When the bars are cold re-cut and remove.  I cut this pan of bars 8 across and 4 down giving me 32 pieces. 

Bars can be individually wrapped in waxed paper and stored in an airtight container.  Of course, you don't have to wrap them but it makes it very convenient to grab a wrapped bar for a lunch box or traveling snack. You can see I have a great pile of granola bars to share.


Stuffed with fruit and nuts. 

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