A few years ago I posted a granola bar recipe I'd stumbled across in an old cookbook of mine. The idea resounded with me, as I've been on a journey to eat less refined foods. Again, I'm on a journey, not yet arrived. I'm trying to make small choices for me and my family to know what ingredients are going into our bodies. It's boggling sometimes when you look at the (terrifyingly long) ingredient list on a box of cereal or granola bars, and you can't pronounce half the list!
So I've started scouring Pinterest for recipes of things I would normally buy at the store: Cheese Crackers, Peanut Butter, Pizza, taco seasoning, etc. I call it my BAKE IT, DON'T BUY IT board. Are Homemade Oreos healthy? Not exactly. But at least you know what's going into them and have control over the ingredients. No additives, no preservatives, no weird man-made chemicals. And I'll be honest: most things I make at home taste way better than the store-bought version!
Well, the aforementioned granola bar recipe was delicious but unpredictable. Sometimes it would turn out too dry and wouldn't stay together (leaving you with tasty granola bar bits. Which is yummy. But not conducive to easy eating). Sometimes it would turn out too wet and fall apart. It was frustrating to never know how they would turn out. I worked on the recipe, I tweaked it and finally decided I needed to hunt for a new one.
I came across Ina Garten's Granola Bar recipe recently. I liked the basic format, but it needed a few changes to suit me. A bit of tweaking turned into a lot of adjusting, and I ended up with my very own unique concoction.
And it's delectable.
Would I lie to you?
The recipe is a nice readable list of ingredients, and I feel good about giving them to my kids! I'd love to find a way to cut back on the sugar in the future (I'm pretty sure they'd be yummy enough without the brown sugar), but with a majority of the sweetening coming from honey (a natural sweetener), I'm okay with it for now.
Here is your new coffee partner!
- 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 cup raw almonds, chopped
- 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup wheat germ (or flaxseed meal)
- 2 TBS almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
- 1 TBS of coconut oil
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 TBS light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
- 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (I used apples, but dried mango and papaya is yum!)
- 1/2 cup second dried fruit of choice (optional – can increase other dried fruit by ½ cup)
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2) Spread oatmeal, almonds, wheat germ/flaxseed meal and coconut together on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (careful not to burn!).
3) Take out of oven and pour mixture to a large mixing bowl. Reduce oven temp to 300 degrees F.
4) Place the almond butter, coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let simmer and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates and dried fruit, mix to combine.
5)Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan (wet fingers or a spatula so the mixture doesn't stick). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing into bars or squares.
Serve at room temperature.
Definitely serve these at room temperature. I've been storing them in a sealed container in my fridge, which makes them a little hard and crunchy. But if you give them 1-2 minutes at room temperature it gets smooth again.
It might be fun to try a new recipe each week that features a homemade version of a normally store-bought item. Now my gears are turning! Who is in??
I'd love to hear about the recipes YOU are trying to make at home instead of buying.
So leave a comment!