Wholesome easy granola bars (very kid friendly to eat, and make, too!)
I was going to post something non-baking related this week, but then Bobbi Jo asked for healthy granola bar recipes. For the record, Bobbi Jo's son Trey, now in second grade, has got to be one of the most charming, naturally charismatic little fellows I've ever met. He has this endearing, sweet and easygoing sense of humor that is just magic. I'm sure Bobbi Jo hardly expected her no-pressure, casually inquiring e-mail to send me leaping past piles of laundry to toss oats and other pantry staples in a mixing bowl, but that kind of question is too much temptation. And, even though I've got a bunch of recipes for bars that are like granola bars, I didn't have a go-to, no fail granola bar recipe like this one, till now. The best thing about this recipe is, it's so very tweakable to taste. As is, I think it's a perfect adult granola bar breakfast on-the-go. I can already tell I'll regularly be bringing them to work on days I swim early, and need everything ready to go the night before, without a chance for a quick change at home. They may be on the plain side for little palates, but that's so easy to change. They contain no butter or oil, eggs, or dairy; they do have oats, whole wheat flour, flax meal (or something else like wheat germ or oat bran), applesauce, natural peanut butter, honey and a little brown sugar, but not much in the way of the sweet stuff. Dense with good ingredients, and a nice base for developing different flavor combinations. Add nuts, seeds, fruits, chocolate chips, and you have a whole new bar.
One of the other "best things" about this easy recipe is how kid-friendly and fun it is to make. Trust me, you don't have to have kids to enjoy throwing everything in the bowl, then pressing the mixture in your pan. It's sort of reminiscent of making play-dough. And play-dough, as you know, is one of the least time consuming, most inexpensive and immediately gratifying forms of therapy out there. We can all use a little therapy, I think... don't you? : )
Makes 16-18 good-sized bars
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose/whole wheat)
- 1/4 cup flax meal (or wheat germ/oat bran)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup applesauce
- 1/3 natural peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- *optional: nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits of choice, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds...etc, etc!
- Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl to blend evenly.
- Spread and pat into prepared 9 X 13 baking pan.
- Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
- Cut into bars within the first 5 minutes or so (before cooling), or they may become too hard to cut to desired shape.