Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars


Have you ever taken the time and looked at the ingredient list of store bought granola bars?  I have, and I was truly appalled to find so many strange ingredients listed in the nutritional info of several well known brands. Shouldn't something so wholesome be well, wholesome? Shouldn't you be able to feel good if you are packing them for your kids lunch or as a snack? I certainly thought so, and after seeing quite a few fantastic looking granola bars pop up on some of the blogs I read, I set out to find a version my family would love.

I didn't have to look further than Foodnetwork.com which had a basic granola bar recipe from the incomparable Ina Garten. I figured it was a great starting point. I loved the simplicity of her ingredients in the bars and only added a few of my own touches to end up with something that my kids think is "sell-worthy", but then again, they are kind of biased and I pay them to say things like that.


I used the recipe as more of a guideline and encourage you to do the same. The sky is the limit as far as flavor combinations are concerned. There are truly so many options when it comes to this recipe. You can chose any nut (I used almonds) but anything from pecans, to walnuts or pistachios would be wonderful. The dried fruit part is equally adjustable to your taste preferences. I used dried cranberries, but again anything from raisins to dried apricots or cherries would be lovely. I do think a couple of things are key though. Use only high quality ingredients in this recipe, they are a must for flavor. Also, watch the oats and nuts along with the coconut closely while toasting in the oven, you definitely don't want to burn it. The recipe calls for toasted wheat germ, I just toasted it on top of the stove in a dry pan but it also requires a watchful eye. There is not much difference in the time between a perfectly toasted batch and burned wheat germ, sometimes that means only a matter of seconds. Last but not least, I rounded out my granola bars with semi-sweet chocolate chips and some roasted sunflower kernels.

These bars are wonderful! Once baked and cooled they can be stored in an air-tight container for at least a week, that is, if they last that long. This is going in my recipe file and I will be making them many more times. The best compliment was probably from my husband though, who is not a granola bar eater like the rest of us, but who fell in love with them and has been eating one every day for his breakfast. I definitely know they are good when that happens.


Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients:
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower kernels, roasted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the toasted wheat germ and sunflower kernels.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the cranberries and stir well. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then stir in the chocolate chips. If you do this any earlier they will just melt.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into rectangles or squares. Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from: Ina Garten

28 comments:

  1. I just baked them last Friday again. They are very tasty. We love them with dried apricots. This is a great snack for school or to take hiking.
    Susi, I buy the Wheat Germ pretoasted.

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  2. These look stunning, and so healthy! I love this idea, and I'll certainly be making these.

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  3. Kirsten - thanks for the wheat germ tip. I used them untoasted since that's what I had in my freezer but will be on the lookout for the toasted kind the next time I need some :o)

    mw - hope you are feeling better these days and give the granola bars a try, they are delicious :o)

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  4. i'm all for homemade granola bars. you never really know what's in the store bought stuff. these look delicious!

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  5. Our kids are our best fans (and worst critics sometimes), but I will agree those bars look sell-worthy! YUM

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  6. I actually watched this episode of Barefoot Contessa when Ina made this granola for her friends accross the street :) anyways, love how you wrap them too :)

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  7. Those look delicious and much better than my Kashi bars!

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  8. healthy delicious snack love the addition of coconut

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  9. These are just gorgeous. Your recipes and photography never cease to amaze me. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  10. The hubster is a huge fan of granola bars but you're right, the store bought ones are kinda icky. I'm going to have to try these with extra chocolate chips soon! :)

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  11. Yum! These granola bars look fantastic! You really can't go wrong with an Ina Garten recipe, though. I love her!

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  12. I am always on the quest for a good granola bar recipe as my husband and I both love them. I always seem to have problems making granola BARS, rather the granola--mine always seem to fall apart. I will definitely be trying these.

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  13. These look great. I've tried to make granola bars but have never succeeded at getting a chewy texture that holds together. I'll give this recipe a try!

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  14. Lynn and Rocquie - they truly are holding together wonderful. I think key is to really press the mixture in the pan well and let me them cool the 2 to 3 hours before attempting to slice them. Also by lining the pan with parchment it was easy to remove the "granola slab" and place it on a big cutting board which made it very easy to cut.

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  15. These look fabulous! I make my own granola but have never made it into granola bars. These would be a great quick breakfast!

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  16. Wow.. those look amazing, I love homemade granola and that is really yummy recipe.

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  17. They look great! Granola is so fun to make and way better homemade! This recipe looks delicious- you did an awesome job presenting it!

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  18. The way you styled these is just adorable! I'm a sucker for anything with hot pink. I been thinking recently of how to make a "power bar"/granola bar here at home. I pay out the wazoo for the Clif bars, which I like, but they are pretty sweet. This has encouraged me to go for it! I love Ina too! How bad can that be?

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  19. These look divine! Bravo! I love Ina... she always has the best recipes!

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  20. Two of my absolute favorites in one. Granola bars and sunflower seeds. Bravo!

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  21. Funny you mention reading the label, last time I did, I put them back on the shelf! Love this recipes and your styling is gorgeous as usual. They look like little presents of goodness!
    -Gina-

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  22. These look great! Totally true about the store bought bar's ingredients - I need to put these on my to make list. I also like how you wrapped yours!

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  23. I gave up eating store bought years ago for the exact reason you mentioned. These look incredible Susi! Your presentation is gorgeous. They look thick and chewy and really delicious!

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  24. Susi, your granola bars look wonderful. I have read the back of the store bought variety and it is not pretty :-) I would take yours any day.

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  25. oh, yum--what a great idea. I'll make these soon.

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  26. Your granola bars look so lovely! And I really really like the addition of cranberries.

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  27. I totally agree about the store bought granola bars! I made ones myself a while back and they tasted so much better anyways. I am excited to try this new recipe...and coconut sounds delicious!

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  28. I made these through the magazine and they were delicious. They were supposed to be for my daughter, but I may have eaten them all instead. Yours are gorgeous.

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