This is my new favorite recipe (but check back tomorrow because I'll probably have a new one then!). I have been looking for a chewy granola recipe that was something like the stuff you can buy in the stores but had a lot more nutrition to it. The chewy granola bars in the store are basically puffed rice, high fructose corn syrup, a little bit of oatmeal, and a ton of sugar calories. I knew that I should be able to make something better but how?
I was looking for a no-bake cookie recipe the other day. It was 103 degrees out and I was NOT going to turn on the oven but we really needed a treat. I searched on google and found some great recipes (one of which we tried and liked, but it wasn't fabulous).
While I was looking I found a recipe for "Rice Cereal Energy Bars." Hmmm . . . looked kind of interesting. I tried them a few days later and WOW! We love them. I made some changes - I'm just that kind of cook. Here is how I made them:
Chewy Granola Bars ala Jill
Toast in a dry skillet until golden and fragrant:
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. sesame seeds
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Place in the bowl of a food processor:
2 c. dried fruit (I used a mix of golden raisins, apricots, and dried cranberries)
1/2 c. chocolate chips
the toasted, cooled seeds
Pulse until the fruit is chopped and fairly small but not pureed! Pour into a large bowl (a REALLY large bowl!) and add:
2 c. rolled oats (I pulsed mine in the food processor for a second so they were a little smaller)
6 c. puffed rice cereal (this keeps it from being heavy and dense)
1 c. dry powdered milk
1/2 - 1 c. flax meal
Mix all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine:
1 c. corn syrup
3/4 c. honey
1/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
Heat in the microwave until hot and thin (so you can pour it on the dry stuff and mix it). When it is hot, add:
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (I was out of this, but I would add it next time as I really like the taste)
Mix all the wet ingredients and pour over the dry, mix until well combined then press into a 10x15 jellyroll pan. Press it in really good. It will seem like there is way too much and it will never fit, just keep going!!
Cut into bar shapes before it cools then let it cool 'til firm. We couldn't wait to try them so we had the first few when they were still warm.
This sounds like a lot of ingredients (a CUP of corn syrup?? A Cup and a half of peanut butter??) but it makes a ton of bars - we got 33 bars out of this recipe. Half went into the freezer and half in the snack box.
This would be a great lunch box addition or a quick breakfast for my 16 yo who never takes time to eat in the morning. I'll be making this one again!
- You could add other "healthy stuff" like rolled wheat flakes, oat bran, wheat bran or whatever. Just keep the total to the 8 cups. I think I would keep the rice cereal amount high or it would be really heavy.
- I added my dry milk to the dry ingredients because I have non-instant milk and it doesn't dissolve easily - you could add instant dry milk to the wet ingredients after you have heated it.
- We will leave out the chocolate chips next time and add more fruit. You can't taste the chocolate anyway and it just adds more sugar. Another 1/2 c. of cranberries would be fabulous.
- I used "natural" peanut butter and it worked fabulous. You could use crunchy (as the original recipe calls for) and then you'd have little nuts in the bars. I only had creamy.
- The toasting the seeds sounds like a step you could skip, but don't - it really adds to the flavor.
Check out Nourishing Gourmet for more nutritious portable ideas!