|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
I have experimented with many different granola bar recipes, and I have come to the conclusion that there is no single right way to make them. There are some basic requirements, but beyond that, you can be quite creative. You need to start with some grains - oatmeal is traditional. I've added quinoa cereal (quinoa flakes) to these for a boost of nutrition (quinoa has a complete array of amino acids for a grain, and is rich in iron). Quinoa flakes are quinoa grains that have been processed into oatmeal-like flakes, for hot cereal. You can usually find quinoa flakes at Whole Foods or at health food stores. (Quinoa flakes are also perfect for adding to baked goods like bread and cookies).
Add whatever nuts, seeds, and dried fruits you prefer to the oatmeal and other grains. Then all you need is a binder - enough to hold everything together. Usually, that's honey or maple syrup, vegetable oil, and/or nut butter. I prefer maple syrup over honey because the flavor is a little milder. I've added a touch of peanut butter, but not so much that it overwhelms the other flavors. I like to bake granola bars because I enjoy the resulting toasted flavor, but it's not really necessary - many people simply chill the bars before cutting them.
- 2 cups regular oats
- 1 cup quinoa flakes
- 1/2 cup nuts (and/or seeds of choice: pecans, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc)
- 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries, etc.)
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- Optional: 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with vegetable oil.
Place the 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, maple syrup, peanut butter, and brown sugar in a microwave proof bowl or measuring cup. Microwave gently on low heat for 30 seconds or so, or until ingredients can be whisked together easily. Whisk in the vanilla and the salt.
Mix the oatmeal and quinoa flakes together in a bowl. Coarsely chop the nuts and dried fruit, and stir them into the oatmeal mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Add the liquid mixture to the oat mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are well coated. The mixture should be sticky and should start to clump together. If it doesn't, and it seems dry and crumbly, add more maple syrup until it does.
Press the mixture down firmly into the pan. Grease a small piece of aluminum foil and use it to compress the mixture down into the pan as smoothly and firmly as possible.
Place pan in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until grains appear toasted and smell fragrant. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Finish cooling pan in the refrigerator, and for best (least crumbly) results, wait until the mixture is well chilled before cutting it into bars.