Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finder's Keeper's

I have been trying to find the perfect granola bar for months now. I tried a few versions of no-bake chocolate peanut butter protein cookies, but honestly I just wasn't feeling the cold oatmeal. Then I tried a different chocolate hazelnut bar that was better (and decent dipped in coffee) but still not even close to what I really wanted - something both chewy (but not like a NutriGrain bar) and crunchy (but not quite Nature Valley), something I don't have to refrigerate and that feels like substantial food, not a little wedge of undercooked oatmeal. I was also shooting for relatively healthy, without a ton of added sugar and maybe even some fruit and nuts.

Last night I hit the jackpot. After scouring the web and various recipes for weeks, I had an idea of what I wanted and how to make it, so I based my recipe off of this Playgroup Granola Bar recipe. I liked that it had both oats and flour in it, so it'd be more dense than the plain oatmeal-based bars, and it has a simple base.

Ladies and gentlemen, these things are fantastic. I made quite a few modifications to the original recipe but the result is EXACTLY what I was looking for. They are crunchy on the tops and sides but still a little chewy in the middle, and are full of healthy deliciousness. Without further ado, here is the secret recipe to the world's most perfect granola bar. I love the spicy apple flavor of mine - it's perfect for fall - but feel free to swap out anything that you like more.

The Perfect Granola Bar
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (the original recipe called for 3/4 cup but these are plenty sweet)
1/2 cup wheat bran (original called for wheat germ but we didn't have it)
Spices, to taste - I used cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and a tiny bit of chili powder
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (original used all-purpose but in the name of health, use whole wheat)
dried fruit, to taste (I used dried apples but anything would work)
1/4 cup yogurt (I used Greek - actually quark, to replace the oil from the original recipe)
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tbsp almond meal
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla protein powder (I'd leave this out next time, it's not worth it)

1. Preheat oven to 350 (or 176.5). Spray pan or line with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat bran, spices, flour, dried fruit and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Mix well with your hats and pat evening into the prepared pan. The batter is thick, so it will stay where you put it. *Note - I had to add a lot of water to get it to a mixable consistency. 
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the bars become golden around the edges. Cool for 5 minutes and cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow them to cool completely before cutting or they will become too hard to cut.

I got 12 "bars" from mine, with the following nutrition information.

Nutrition Facts

Spicy Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars

  Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
  Total Fat1.8 g
     Saturated Fat0.8 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.1 g
     Monounsaturated Fat0.1 g
     Trans Fat0.0 g
  Cholesterol0.0 mg
  Sodium210.7 mg
  Potassium62.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate23.6 g
     Dietary Fiber2.9 g
     Sugars11.3 g
  Protein3.6 g
  Vitamin A0.0 %
  Vitamin B-120.0 %
  Vitamin B-61.8 %
  Vitamin C0.9 %
  Vitamin D0.0 %
  Vitamin E0.3 %
  Calcium0.9 %
  Copper1.9 %
  Folate0.6 %
  Iron2.6 %
  Magnesium4.1 %
  Manganese18.5 %
  Niacin1.8 %
  Pantothenic Acid    0.6 %
  Phosphorus    2.6 %
  Riboflavin1.1 %
  Selenium2.9 %
  Thiamin0.9 %
  Zinc1.4 %

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