My kids love granola bars. With all the hype over food labels, GMO's in the news recently, pesticides, carcinogenic hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and all the other longer shelf life chemicals they put in food, I decided to get back to my original foundation of cooking things from scratch, using organic as much as I can, and really watching food labels. Even though I have maintained purchasing these items as much as I can, I have become a little lax. Lazy maybe? Probably not lazy but just lost sight of this for awhile. When I was a stay-at-home mom, before my divorce, I made baby food for my girls, froze meals, and was ahead of the week. I bought organic and did the best I could when it came to using whole grain, as much natural ingredients, and fresh fruits and veggies. I still love white rice though. I will not switch entirely to brown rice. Sorry Charlie! So I researched. I bought cookbooks on the matter, mostly vegan because they had all the information I was looking for. I even lost quite a bit of weight. I love meat though, I just eat less of it than I used too. I could go on and on about healthy living, but their are plenty of blogs devoted to this topic and I enjoy reading them and incorporating the information in to our daily lives and what I cook for dinner. Going through divorce, change, and all the other stressful aspects, plus a full time job has changed a lot of what I used to do as far as my love for cooking. Making wholesome things for my girls in lieu of buying pre-packaged items has been a challenge to maintain. In other words I haven't been maintaining that like I used too. I do make dinner every night, but I have not made the time needed to make the treats and snacks from scratch like I would want too. Now I get to force this, I mean offer this to three boys that I also love. I made crispy crunchy granola bars. Ace didn't seem to mind too much since he loved them and came back for seconds. Plus who doesn't love the smell in the house when making homemade goodies? Just to add a little extra something sweet, I dipped a small portion in chocolate. I don't usually like to give a lot of sweets in their lunches so I figured I would go with granola bars since the girls love them. Who I am fooling! Like there isn't enough sugar in a granola bar I go and add chocolate. A touch of cinnamon with chocolate. Yum.
Now I know all these ingredients are not organic, but I am working on this. I was at SB's house this weekend and he is a simple kind-of guy. I love that about him. If it's in the pantry, I am using it and he wouldn't understand buying anything additional when he already had it on hand. He does support how I feel about it though and let's me do my thang. For now I improvise with what is on hand, or what I already have at his place. Please replace any of these ingredients with your product of choice.
Chocolate Dipped Granola Bars
1 c. Chopped Almonds
1-1/2 c. Whole Oats
1-3/4 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
4 tbl. Butter (preferably Vegan Butter - I like Earth Balance organic)
2/3 c. Maple Syrup (the real stuff)
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1-1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 c. Cranberries (or 5oz package)
5-6 oz Chocolate melted
Turn oven to 350. Prepare sheet pan with parchment paper. Chop almonds. Spread out Oats and almonds on sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. If you do not want yours toasted, skip this and move to the step that mixes all dry ingredients and set oven to 300. My girls prefer things un-toasted.
In a large mixing bowl, add whole wheat flour and cinnamon, stir to combine. In a saucepan, add butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Bring to a low bowl or until butter and sugar is dissolved.
Remove oats and almonds from oven and reduce heat to 300. Add the almonds and oats to the flour and cinnamon bowl, and stir to combine. Add contents of saucepan to the bowl, and cranberries. Work it together until all ingredients are combined.
Using the parchment paper and sheet pan, spread the mixture out to the edges with your fingers. Use a bit of cold water on your fingers to prevent sticking. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool for 1 hour.
With a knife, chop up snack size pieces. Don't worry about the broken bits, that made a great addition to my Greek yogurt I brought to work today.
In a double boiler (or shatter proof glass dish placed on top of your saucepan), add chocolate and stir until melted. Dip as much chocolate as you want. I just dipped one of the edges.
Let cool or store in an air-tight container in the fridge separated by parchment. Store broken pieces in an air tight container as well.
Hope you enjoy!