Thursday, March 19, 2009

Healthy Granola bars

Had not been baking much. Busy.

Samantha brought back the stomach flu virus and passed it on to almost my entire family. Prayerfully, little Nathalie was spared, thanks to the many prayers from family and friends. Gabriel is still suffering with lots of gas in the tummy.

Nathalie has very sensitive skin. PD confirmed she has eczema. She has rashes on the face, hands, legs and feet. Sometimes its so bad that a sticky liquid oozes out. On some days it bothers her so much that she could not sleep. She used to sleep through the night, in fact she was able to do that in her first month. But ever since the rashes came about, she wakes up two to three times in the middle of the night. Sometime due to the itch, sometimes due to diarrhea. After some research and trials, I realised that she is sensitive to peanuts and milk. When I consume those (I am still breastfeeding), she breaks out in rashes. So I have to stay away from dairy products and peanuts. The diarrhea has stopped, her rashes better, but still flares up occasionally. There is still something in my diet or the environment that she is sensitive to. Pray for wisdom.

My hubby enjoys cycling. He suffered two falls recently. Thank God no major injuries. You can read his blog here. He had been eating just granola bars for lunch for past week and was telling me how expensive good bars are. So I ventured to bake him some.

I searched the internet for recipe and decided to use this. I was sold by the beautiful pictures and it looks easy enough.

Granola Bars
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup whole almonds (or other nut)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup honey*
1/4 cup natural peanut butter*
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
Preheat the oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, line a square baking pan (8 or 9 inches) with two perpendicular sheets of parchment paper that are long enough to leave an overhang. The sheets will form a “basket” for you to lift out the sheet of granola, before you cut it into bars.

Combine the oats, coconut, seeds and nuts; spread out evenly on the rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. When the oat mixture has been toasting for about 10 minutes, combine the honey, peanut butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. If the sugar dissolves before the oat mixture is done toasting, reduce the heat to low.

When the oat mixture is done toasting, transfer it to a large bowl and add the honey mixture and fruit; stir to incorporate. Spread the mixture in the prepared square pan, using the back of a wooden spoon or bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture into the pan and create a smooth, even surface. Bake the granola mixture for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Using your parchment “handles,” lift the granola sheet out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, Cut the sheet into one-inch wide bars. Next, cut the series of bars in half, lengthwise. Store in an airtight container.

I modified the recipe and replaced the nuts with what I have on hand. I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and crushed the whole almonds. I also added some wheat germ.

The oats and nuts toasted.

Mixed the nuts with the peanut/honey/sugar mixture. I had problem with it coming together that I rushed to make another half batch of the peanut/honey/sugar mixture. After mixing, put into a 10 inch pan.

Press and press and press with wooden spoon till surface is even.

When cool, cut with sharp knife and the granola bars are ready to be consumed. It was quite difficult to cut. I think its too dry and a little crumbly, not the soft chewy granola bars I am familiar with. Maybe the baking time was too long.
Here's a close up.

Taste wise, its not too bad. Not sweet, very nutty and certainly very healthy.

Next time, will try a more chewy recipe.

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