09 August 2011

Crunchy Granola Bars

I have no idea why I've had a major itch to make granola bars. I don't even eat granola regularly in any form on a regular basis! I probably saw it on Tastespotting or Foodgawker recently. It could also be because I've been eating yogurt and berries for breakfast a LOT lately, and adding granola would make it a cute lil parfait. Or it could be that I just saw granola on Down Home with the Neely's on Food Network the other day. Whatever the reason, I've had granola bars on my mind for the last couple weeks, and I finally made it correctly tonight.
Notice how I said correctly, haha. My first attempt was last week and I added dried apricot and figs to half a batch, but it didn't really stick together, so I crumbled it and turned it into the loose granola. The other half of that batch... flavor was great, but I forgot to grease the bottom of the pan and used wax paper and that got very stuck to the granola, so I ended up crumbling that one trying to pull it off the paper. Oops.
(Parchment paper this time, and I remembered to butter it!)

I specifically wanted crunchy granola bars because my Favorite Convenience Granola Bar (FCGB) are those great honey and oat ones that come in green packaging. They're so simple, not overly sweet, and that was my goal. Well, the goal was crunchy, not too sweet, and healthier. After reading through a few dozen recipes, I decided to add to the oats: almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and puffed kamut. (I had never even heard of that last one until looking at granola recipes. It tastes like unsweetened honey smacks, and is a good low cal source of fiber and protein, so perfect addition!) And to legitimately call these "healthier" than my FCGB, and because I wanted to procrastinate going to the gym tonight (yup, I detect the irony), I looked up the nutritional info for all the ingredients and did some basic math (thanks, Excel). While this homemade granola bar has twice as many calories, it has 3x the fiber and almost 3x the protein. They've got crunch, but don't fall apart the minute you bite into it. It's a great grab and go breakfast or snack.

Crunchy Granola Bars
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and Alton Brown

2 C old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 C raw sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp flax seeds
1/4 C honey
1/4 C agave nectar
1/4 C brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 C puffed kamut
1/2 C blanched almonds
4 tbsp flax seed meal

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9"x13" pan with parchment paper, then butter it with the 1 Tbsp butter.

Combine oats, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. Toast in oven for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the oats are toasting, combine the honey, agave, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Take the oats out of the oven, then drop the temperature to 300. Transfer oats to a large bowl. Add the kamut and almonds to the oat mixture and stir until combined. Add the wet ingredients and stir until evenly combined. Turn mixture out into the prepared pan, spread until it's an even layer, and press down. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool completely. Take out of pan and cut into 16 bars or squares.

Wrap in parchment paper cut to size and keep in an airtight container up to a week.

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