When I go out for my morning walks I like to bring with me a little thermos of coffee and something to eat. I usually have some Nature Valley granola bars available, and grab one of those. They’re a convenient size, light, and don’t have a lot of sugary gunk in them. They also don’t have tons of nutritional value. Not bad, but not great. They’re also not cheap. So in my DIY way, I decided I would try to make some of my own.
I looked online for recipes and found a lot that had flour, butter, eggs, corn syrup and white sugar as ingredients. Yummy things, sure, but I wanted something that was low in fat and cholesterol (I have high cholesterol), and big on taste. I decided to find one that was close to what I wanted, then improvise a little. This one was the closest.
I’m still working to get them just right. The first batch just fell apart, so no bars. This most recent batch is a little hard, which I think has to do with cooking them just a little too long. The recipe, so far, is as follows. Feel free to tinker.
UPDATE, 3/4: the bars were a little too hard, so I split the batch in two and spread into two parchment-lined 9″ by 13″ pans. The edges broke a bit when cutting, but the bars were much easier to bite into.
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup roasted almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup almond butter (or any other nut butter)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dried/sweetened cranberries (or other dried fruit)
Preheat your oven to 325°. Line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (wax paper would be fine). Mix the first seven ingredients together and spread evenly over the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the dry ingredients are toasting, mix the next 6 ingredients together in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Heat until the sugar has melted and dissolved completely, stirring very often. If the sugar has dissolved before the dry ingredients are done, turn the heat way down and continue to stir.
When the dry ingredients are done toasting, dump them in a large bowl (save the parchment paper) and pour in the honey mixture and add the dried fruit, stirring to combine fully. It’s important that you mix all ingredients while they are hot. For my first batch I let the dry ingredients cool down and the honey mixture just clumped up, which caused it to all fall apart when baked and cooled. It was still tasty, though.
Next, place the parchment paper in the bottom of a 9″ by 13″ baking pan and spread out the mixture evenly. A Pyrex non-stick spatula worked like a charm for this, though the bottom of a measuring cup works well, too. Bake for 15 minutes (10 if you divided the batch in two). Take the pan out of the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
When the granola has fully cooled you can either use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan, or place a cutting board on top of the pan and turn it upside down. Discard the parchment paper, and using a sharp knife, cut the granola into bars.
I then wrapped each bar in plastic wrap and put them in an air-tight container, so I can just grab one when I’m walking out the door.