By now, you may have gotten the message that I want all of us to be eating a good breakfast. I certainly don’t want to come across as preachy and too earnest though. Just as we know we all need to start the day off right, we also know all too well that if something doesn’t taste good, there’s really no point in encouraging ourselves or anyone else for that matter to eat it. So how do we combine the two forces? Sometimes, with a bit of sweetener and a sense of whimsy, that’s how!!
Which is why I used the recipe for granola from my last post to create a delicious, grab as you go, mix up as you want, granola bar. The oats in the granola provide the carbohydrates that you need to boost your brain function, either as part of your breakfast or as a mid-morning snack. The honey is the fuel that helps keep you focused and alert. And although any sugar, honey included, runs the risk of spiking your blood sugar, this tendency is kept in check by the inclusion of the rolled oats.
Honey too is not a unifaceted bad guy. It is considered anti-microbial and anti-viral, and fairly adept at reducing your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
And then there’s the fun part of making granola bars. The great thing about making your own breakfast bars is that you can eschew the fruit you don’t like and replace it with whatever suits your fancy. Try raisins instead of dried cranberries, or even dried figs or dates. Apricots not your cup of tea? Well, then try dried apples or dried papaya. Pumpkin seeds can be substituted for the sunflower seeds and if you’re not allergic to nuts, why not try cashews for a change? Even mini chocolate chips would be great.
And don’t even get me started on the myriad ways you can use your own granola bars, Try crumbling them on top of yogurt, fresh fruit or on top of a fruit crisp. Try cutting them into miniscule squares and tucking them into your favorite cookie batter. Why not even drizzle them with some melted chocolate for an after dinner treat? Or include some yogurt-covered raisins in the mix?
Sticky, crunchy and sweet, these bars are the surprising solution to breakfast or snack nay-sayers. Full of toasted good for you oats and dried fruit, they’re sure to satisfy your inner foodie.
In baking, honey is considered a hygroscopic ingredient, meaning that baked goods made with honey will be moister and stay moister longer than if the same item was made with granulated sugar.
6 cups large flake rolled oats
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried apricots
6 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup raw honey
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Place the oats, pecans and sunflower seeds on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Stir in the cranberries, apricots, oil, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Stir in the honey until all of the ingredients are well mixed and coated. Pat mixture back into the parchment paper-lined pan.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into bars.
Yield: 15 four-inch long bars.