no-bake apple and carob chip granola bars

A recipe caught my eye on Pinterest the other day and I thought I’d give it a go.  We go through a fair number of granola bars in any given week, between the husband’s lunches, Kat’s snacks, my pre-workout snack, etc., and let’s be real:  your garden-variety, store-bought granola bars can be the equivalent of eating a candy bar.  So, I spend a lot of time reading labels while I shop, searching out the healthiest options on the market.  Frequently, I’ll just make my own.   I have a great crispy granola recipe I’m pretty fond of,  but I’ve never tried to make granola bars.

True confessions?  These didn’t successfully turn out as bars.

More true confessions?  You might as well eat a candy bar as eat this granola.

dryingredients©ziouptonuts

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s tasty.  And, although granola is pretty widely known for being very calorie dense, my go-to recipe had a lot of sugar in a variety of forms (brown sugar, molasses, honey, dried apples, etc.).  Even though I substituted a few ingredients, I wished later I’d cut down on some of the other sugar (see Cook’s Notes, below).

The finished product was sweet (a little too sweet for me), but deliciously chewy.

driedapples©zouptonuts

ingredientsgranola©zouptonuts

combine©zouptonuts

The instructions were very strict about the 60 second boil, indicating less than 60 seconds would result in granola that fell apart, or more than 60 seconds would result in bars that ended up too hard.  I clearly failed to meet the required 60 seconds, despite my best efforts (how hard can that be, really?), because my granola didn’t want to stay in bar form.  While I managed to successfully cut and wrap a few to photograph, the rest we ate out of hand or I sprinkled over Greek yogurt and berries at lunch.  That was my preference with this particular recipe.  Give it a shot making bars, though.  I’d love to hear if anyone has any real success.  Enjoy!

 No-Bake Apple and Carob Chip Granola Bars (recipe adapted from My Small Potatoes)

 Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 c puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1/2 c dried apples, chopped
  • 1/3 c carob chips
  • 1/8 c sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/8 c chopped almonds, toasted

Directions:

  • Toast sesame seeds and almonds over medium heat, stirring regularly so as not to scorch.  Remove from pan when golden.
  • Combine oats, brown rice cereal, dried apples, carob chips, toasted sesame seeds, and toasted chopped almonds.  Mix well and set aside.
  • Line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with wax paper.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray to make removal of the bars easier.
  • Melt butter over medium heat.
  • Stir in brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, honey, and molasses.
  • Bring to a boil for 60 seconds then immediately remove from heat and pour over dry ingredients.
  • Working quickly, mix wet and dry ingredients until evenly combined.
  • Scoop into lined baking pan and spread evenly, packing the mixture hard with your hands.
  • Let cool before removing from pan and slicing in to bars.

granolabars©zouptonuts

wrapped©zouptonuts

crumbled©zouptonuts

***Cook’s Notes – this granola was too sweet for me.  Don’t get me wrong, it tasted fine, but when I make it again, I’ll reduce the brown sugar to 1/2 to 3/4 cup.  I’d also probably reduce quantities of honey, as well, from six tablespoons to four, because I don’t think the additional two tablespoons add anything significant to the recipe other than more sweetness.  And honey is naturally sweeter than refined sugars, so you can use less of it.  Also note, when using dried apple rings, make sure you buy apples with no sugar added.  We’ll see.  This one definitely needs some tinkering to get it just right, but I think it would be worth it in the long run.

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homemade granola

I love granola. Yet, I hate granola. I love it because it’s easy to grab a handful for a quick pick-me-up before heading to the gym, or toss it over yogurt for a little texture and crunch. I hate granola because it’s super calorie-dense and, even though it has a lot of really good ingredients, it has a lot of not so healthy ingredients, too; which means even though I want to stand over the bowl and eat serving after serving, I can’t. Well…at least I shouldn’t.
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The dilemma is only compounded by the fact this recipe is super yummy and delicious. So use your best judgment. I take absolutely no responsibility if you are will-power challenged and consume the entire quantity in one day. Besides, if you pace yourself, you’ll get to enjoy this heavenly deliciousness a little longer.  Enjoy!
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Homemade Granola
Ingredients:
1/4 c unsalted butter
approx 1 tbsp canola oil
approx 1 tbsp honey
approx 1/2 tbsp vanilla
several generous shakes of cinnamon
1 1/2 c rolled oats (organic/gluten free)
1 1/2 c puffed brown rice cereal (I used Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice from Sprouts)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/4 c sunflower seeds (husked, unsalted)
1/4 c flax seed
1 c dried cherries
1/2 c dried apricots, diced
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Procedure:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat and add next four ingredients,
    mixing well. Remove from heat and add the dried ingredients (holding back dried fruits), stirring until well combined.
  2. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking pan. Transfer combined ingredients into the baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 15
    minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and add dried fruit, stirring in evenly. Let cool/harden before eating – if you can wait, that is.

***Cook’s Notes: Like all good recipes, this one was sentto me in partially cryptic
measurements. You know how it is when you bake or create something in your
kitchen? It’s always, “Well, I just add it until I think I’ve added enough,” or,
“Shake, shake, shake. Shake, shake, shake.” So this recipe is simply my
approximate equivalents. Do what you will. It is granola, after all. There are
no hard and fast rules.