Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Best Granola Bars (the hunt is over).

I can’t help but feel personally responsible for bad weather when out-of-towners come to visit Southern California. Lisa flew to LA this past weekend; and on Saturday, the weather was not cooperating. She was greeted in LA with grey skies and a sudden downpour. Not quite the idea she had in mind when trying to escape the rainfall in Bellingham for a few days.

But, to make the best of a situation, we did something to brighten our spirits despite the gloomy sky: we turned up the music, each poured a glass of red wine, and joined forces in the kitchen.

We’ve been on the hunt for the perfect granola bar recipe for quite a while. Each time one of us tries a new granola bar recipe, it usually ends with a phone call to the other announcing, “I made the worst granola bars ever…again.”

Saturday night was an exception. We tried a recipe given to us by Bastyr University student, Steven Jamieson and they did not disappoint. They turned out good. Really good. In fact, I’ve already given some away to friends and I’m suddenly a little more popular.

A wonderful thing about this recipe in particular is that it's extremely versatile. Try mixing it up by using your favorite dried fruit or nut butter for your own unique version! While Steven’s bars are titled “Cranberry and Pumpkin Energy Bars,” we substituted the dried cranberries for dried tart cherries, our personal favorite addition to homemade sweets & other treats.

These "energy bars" are a perfect snack to take on a hike, in the car with you for the long road trip, or to have as a little pick-me-up when you’re energy hits rock bottom mid-afternoon. They’ll be sure to keep you satisfied and running full steam ahead all day long.

Cranberry and Pumpkin Energy Bars

1 ½ cups gluten-free oats
½ cup puffed millet
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup dried cranberries (***we used dried cherries)
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown rice syrup (***we used maple syrup)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup peanut butter or other nut butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Spread the oats out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray every few minutes to make sure they toast evenly. Remove the oats from the tray when they are fragrant and beginning to brown, set aside in a bowl.

While the oven is still on, place the pumpkin seeds and dried coconut on the baking sheet and toast them for 2-3 minutes, making sure that they do not burn. Add these to the bowl with the oats. To the bowl add the puffed millet, dried cranberries (or cherries), flax seeds, hemp seeds and salt. Set aside.
Over medium heat, place brown rice syrup (or maple syrup), honey and molasses in a saucepan and bring to a low boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in oil and peanut butter until it is thoroughly mixed and is an even consistency.
Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients and combine until evenly mixed. Press into an oiled 7 1/2- x 11 1/2-inch baking dish. Let cool, then flip out onto a cutting board and cut into 18 bars.
Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap to keep the bars from drying out.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 18 bars

Copyright 2012, S. Jamieson, Original Recipe

Enjoy making or eating, preferably in the company of someone you love.

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