Monday, May 31, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

In college and high school, we used the term "granola" to explain a special kind of person. Someone who wears Birkenstocks exclusively, enjoys herbal tea regularly, and who probably eats organic, free-range, cage-free, sustainable, recycled granola.

Perhaps you would enjoy an example?

I went to high school with this girl...we'll call her Lola*.

*Name changed to protect the truly crunchy. PS- it's not me. This girl was WAY more of a hippy than I've ever been.

Lola marched to a different beat, a beat that no one else heard.

To call my hometown "preppy" doesn't even begin to touch it's yuppy core.

Lola wore linen- everyday. The looser the tunic, the floppy the pants, the better.

Lola was an artist- last I heard she went to RISD where I'm sure she was hugely successful.

But what made Lola truly stand out was the pouch she wore around her neck.

Any guesses what was in the pouch? I'll wait.

Shark tooth? Nope. Lucky penny? Nah. Lock of boyfriend's hair? Getting warmer.

It was her pet sugar glider.

Apparently, she needed to bond with them, so she wore them all day long.

So to review- she was/is GRANOLA.

This is also granola. Making your own granola bars is not only easy, but can make you feel somewhat superior. Who else will take the time to make nutritious power-packed snacks?

Make. Eat. Feel self-righteous.

Preheat your oven to 350. Line an 8x8 glass Pyrex with aluminum foil (or parchment paper if you're fancy) and grease well.

In an extra large mixing bowl, add oats, flour, and salt. Make sure you use the biggest bowl you've got, 'cause this is gonna get messy.

Take out your nut of choice. If it's already chopped small, you can throw them in. If they're whole, you need to take 'em down a notch.

See? Smaller.
Throw the nuts and the chocolate chips into your big bowl.

Stir it all about.

Add in your nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter) and agave.

Here comes the only hard part- you gotta mix this stuff up! Pull on your Pop-Eye pants and stir until really well combined. Once you think you've got it, drizzle on the water & vanilla and STIR SOME MORE.

Dump the sticky mess into your dish.

Pack it in really well. Use the heel of your hand to smush it in and make sure you get the corners. The tighter you pack this, the less of a chance you'll have loose bars.

No one wants loose bars.

See? Tight.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Mmm...golden brown.

Before slicing, you gotta do two things.

Thing #1) Cool the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.

Thing #2) Remove aluminum foil/parchment paper sling from the pan and place in fridge. Cool here at least 1-2 hours- til cold to the touch.

THEN you may slice.

I made my bars snack size and got twelve out of my pan.
Here's the money shot- check out those OATS!

Chocolate Almond Granola Bars
Makes ~12 granola bars

1 2/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup light salted, roasted almonds- chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 x 8 Pyrex dish with tin foil or parchment paper. Grease well.

In a very large bowl, combine oats, flour, salt, chocolate chips, and almonds. Stir to combine. Add sunflower seed butter and agave nectar. Stir well to combine. This will take some arm strength. Drizzle the vanilla and water over the top and stir again to distribute evenly.

Pat the mixture into the pan making sure to really pack it in. Use the heel of your hand to smush it in.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then remove the foil/paper sling and put in fridge to cool an additional 1-2 hours before slicing.

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