Granola Bars

September 18, 2009

Since I already had the ingredients for granola, I decided to try my hand at some homemade granola bars. I don’t particularly like store-bought granola bars. They have a weird aftertaste and aren’t really satisfying. These granola bars are filling without being too dense; they are soft, not crunchy, so they’re pretty great on the go. I don’t really eat them as snacks because it’s just too much, but I’ve been carrying them in my bag in case I miss lunch. I also eat one about 45 minutes before heading to the gym.

Word of warning: The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, but I think that makes them too rich. I’m going to stick with dried fruits and nuts the next time I make them.

granola bars

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup jam (I used strawberry)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup raisins

Directions:

Combine the rolled oats, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together the brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, jam and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until completely combined. Add the raisins and chocolate chips and press into an even layer in a lightly greased 9×13″ baking dish. Bake the granola bars at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and slice the granola bars immediately. However, let them cool completely in the pan before scooping them out. They’ll be too soft to retain their shape before then.

Advertisements

Granola…Mmmmm, Granola

September 17, 2009

I love granola, but I pretty much stopped eating it when we moved to Chicago. It’s expensive to buy in stores, and somehow it never occurred to me to try to make my own.

Until now.

I did a little research and pulled together a recipe that I think is awesome. One of the things I like so much about this recipe is that it’s so versatile. You could easily sub maple syrup for most or all of the honey, or cut the coconut in favor of more wheat germ or sunflower seeds. Any fruits or nuts should pair well with this recipe; I used sliced almonds and dried cranberries in mine.

The result?

granola

Delicious.

Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened, if possible)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2-2 cups dried fruit and nuts

Directions:

Combine the rolled oats, coconut and wheat germ in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Pour the oil, honey, brown sugar and cinnamon into a small saucepan. Combine the wet ingredients using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, then bring them to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the saucepan from the burner and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the hot liquid into the oat mixture, and toss until completely coated. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray, then arrange the coated oats in a shallow layer on the sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the granola every 5 minutes or so to keep it from burning. It cooks really fast, so keep an eye on it; when it starts looking golden brown and smelling toasty, take it out.

Transfer the hot granola to a bowl and toss it with the nuts and dried fruit when it’s completely cool. Store in an airtight container.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

September 15, 2009

chocolate-pb-smoothie

Tonight I had a random craving for a chocolate peanut butter smoothie and decided to make one up. I fancy myself a  darn good smoothie maker. It must have been my professional training at Jamba Juice during that month in college. There, I learned to keep frozen fruit on hand for when the smoothie mood strikes, and to think of a blender as a necessity.

Although this smoothie is pretty healthy, full of potassium from the bananas and protein from the peanut butter, it tastes like a thick, creamy, chocolatey milkshake. (Darren doesn’t like bananas, but he couldn’t taste them very much.)  As with all smoothies, you can improvise with this one. If I’d had chocolate syrup, for example, I would have used it instead of cocoa powder, because it blends better.

Tip: Frozen fruit, particularly bananas, makes smoothies thicker and icier than unfrozen fruit. Buy bags of organic frozen berries to keep in the freezer. Also, get in the habit of freezing sliced bananas in Ziploc bags–particularly those that are too ripe to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk (whatever type you like; I use almond)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder + 2 teaspoons brown sugar (you can substitute sweetened cocoa powder or chocolate syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 2 small bananas or 1 large one, preferably sliced and frozen in advance
  • 1 handful of ice cubes

Blend everything together until thick and smooth. Enjoy!