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Granola Bars and Mom Guilt


Ok, so the kids are all out of the house, and my husband is sleeping, and it seems creepily quiet.  This is definitely foreign to me!  So, I thought I would take my mind off the eerie silence by writing about what I have been baking.  Lately, I have been wanting to use up some of the dried fruit I have on hand, and Whole Foods had a great deal on Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free Oats lately, so Gluten Free Granola Bars seemed like a pretty good choice…tasty, not too much effort, and really big flavor.

My first batch was a rich and fruity bar, extra thick and cut into big hunks (is that an actual food term?).  I had used a smaller than normal pan because I wanted pretty thick bars; even so, they were all gone within about an hour (well, except for the one bar that I tucked away for Angela to try, since she contributed the pumpkin seeds to the recipe.  Thanks, Angela!).


Rich and Fruity Granola Bars

Ingredients:
1 2/3 Gluten Free Oats
½ c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. gluten free oats, whirled around in the food processor (or oat flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. dried prunes (rough chopped)
½ c. pumpkin seeds
1/3 c. almond butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
6 tbsp. melted butter
¼ c. honey
2 tbs. agave nectar
1 tbsp. water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line an 8” x 8” pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray or coat lightly with butter. 

Stir together all the ingredients.  Spread the mixture in the prepared pan.  Using wet hands will help make it spread easier.  (I am not responsible if you end up licking it off your fingers.  I have…known…people…who might have done this.)

Bake the bars for about 40 minutes.  The will be beginning to get brown around the edges, but they will still seem a bit undercooked in the center.  That is exactly what you want.  Quick, time to take them out!

Now for the hard part…let them cool.  No, really.  Don’t cut them yet.  Let them cook for several hours.  Then lift the foil out and let them cool on the counter a bit longer out of the pan (but still in the foil). 

Once they are finally cool, you can cut them with a serrated knife (if you use a nice sawing motion and don’t force the knife tip into the bar, they will cut much nicer).  If you don’t have a serrated knife, or don’t want to wait the extra cooling time, eh, don’t worry…they will still taste awesome, they will just be less photogenic. 

I really did have every intention of wrapping some of these up and putting them aside for school snacks but, as I said, they were wolfed down in record time.  And, honestly, I liked them so much, I wanted more…you know…for the kids.  So I have another pan cooling as I type.

These were so easy to whip up, and the oven was all preheated and all, so I decided to make another batch of my Chocolate Oatmeal Granola Bars.  (You may recall that my mother in law bought me a huge bag of chips from Sam’s…see what good use I am making of them?!)  I actually made them Saturday, and they were devoured Saturday, so clearly I needed to make another batch and do it properly this time, so today I made a double batch.  Mostly I am making them again because my middle child cried when they were gone.  Yes, cried.  Really.  Actual tears.  


Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Ingredients:

1 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. nut butter of your choice
¼ c. honey
¼ c. agave nectar
½ melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. gluten free oats
¼ c. dried coconut (unsweetened)
¼ c. sunflower seeds
2 tsp. gluten free oat flour
1 c. chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line an 8” x 12” pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray or coat lightly with butter. 

Stir together all the ingredients.  Spread the mixture in the prepared pan.  Using wet hands will help make it spread easier. 

Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes.  The edges of the bars should be lightly brown.  Again, you have to let these sit up for several hours.  I will warn you, this will be more difficult to let cool than the fruit bars…because these, my friends, have the irresistible, warm invitation of melted chocolate wafting from them. 

I am not going too pretend that these are all kinds of nutritious, but they are gluten free, and they are homemade, and they are an awesome treat…and they are still better than a lot of the prepackaged crap at the store…that has to be worth something, right?  Plus, the “you’re the best ‘cooker’ in the world” comments from my happy kids…definitely, worth it. 

Just so you know, I also made an amazing, impromptu Polenta Tamale Skillet, which I will post the recipe for in the next day or two.  In case you are curious, here is a picture to tide you over until I can get the recipe up.

Laura  – (March 7, 2011 at 2:37 PM)  

These recipes look really delicious - I'm practically drooling! I'm going to have to give both of them a try...

Devouring the Seasons  – (March 8, 2011 at 1:27 PM)  

I hope you get a chance to try them soon! (I love the fruity one best.) I did find that humidity can affect the bars (it makes them a tad sticky). If so, just wrap the pan in a bit of plastic wrap or foil and tuck them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. This also makes them easier to cut! The bars I sent in the kiddos' lunches were ones I had frozens and they thawed beautifully by lunchtime. (This also kept the bars from getting smashed...have you ever SEEN how kids toss around their lunch boxes!?!)
- Terri

Denise  – (March 16, 2011 at 9:53 PM)  

These look so tasty!! I am all about making homemade snacks for the kids. They don't last very long around here either. And I so love the term...my 3 yr old says it too..."You're a good cooker mama." Love it!!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm now a follower of yours. Great things happening here!

Denise @ Creative Kitchen

Devouring the Seasons  – (March 17, 2011 at 9:49 AM)  

Love your blog, Denise! Thanks for joining us! I hope that you give one of the granola bars a try (the fruity ones are my favorite this week...I just made some a few days ago and already we are out of them again)! I made them with sunflower butter this last time, and used apricots instead of prunes, and they got even more Mmmmmm's than last time...(you know, in case you happen to be in the mood to try them on your family). ~ Terri

Sarah Franz-Wichlacz  – (May 30, 2011 at 11:53 AM)  

hi! i just made the chocolate chip bars for my husband yesterday. he asked for a granola bar to bring to work in the mornings as he's finally gotten a little tired of chocolate chip banana muffins ;).... his response: "they are almost too good for breakfast... that's not a bad thing!" so i think that's a good vote. i wish i could get him to eat the fruit ones, but i might be pushing my luck :/

Devouring the Seasons  – (May 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM)  

I am glad he liked them! Actually, I like the fruit ones even better, so you might give it a go. If you do, let us know which he liked better!

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