Saturday, August 13, 2011

Safe-for-School Granola Bars

Elspeth's preschool, like so many these days, is nut-free. Since nuts are my favorite go-to source of nutrition in nearly any situation, it can be a bit of a challenge to make sure that Elspeth gets enough of a balance in her lunches. Enter these granola bars. I tried many different baked and unbaked variations before I finally hit on these. This recipe from PCC (Puget Consumers Co-Op) "Taste" newsletter had the most potential. Before we wanted to pack them for school, I had made them with Trader Joe's Tempting Trail Mix, my very favorite trail mix ever. Even then, I liked the bars but didn't love them.

Much to my surprise, the use of sunflower butter and chocolate-covered, candy-coated sunflower seeds in place of the peanut butter and trail mix resulted in a superior bar. These bars are dangerously more-ish. They're hardly health food, but as a snack/dessert goes, I think they're a great one to have in the repertoire.

Though it uses more sweetener than I'd prefer, Trader Joe's fat free Blueberry Muesli is perfect for this recipe. (You'd think I was being paid by TJ, but alas, no, I just like many of their products). To cut the sweetness, I still use plain quick-cooking oats.

INGREDIENTS
1 c. quick-cooking oats
2 c. Trader Joe's blueberry muesli or other muesli
1 1/2 c. dried tart cherries
1/2 c. candy-coated chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp salt
Other mix-ins as desired such as grated coconut or mini chocolate chips
1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. honey
2 TBSP oil
1 c. sunflower butter

DIRECTIONS
  1. Lightly grease an 8 inch square pan with oil or non-stick cooking spray
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl--kids are great helpers with this as long as they don't eat all the goodies
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the brown rice syrup and honey to a low boil for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the oil and sunflower butter and mix thoroughly until it is as smooth as you can make it
  5. Pour the warm mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well. You might want to get your hands in there to help mix
  6. Press the mixture into your pan and let cool
  7. While PCC Taste recommends flipping the bars out to cut them, I find them too crumbly for this. Instead, I cut them into 1 inch squares (or thereabouts) and serve them from the pan
  8. Keep the leftovers covered. If it's very warm in your house, I recommend keeping the bars in the fridge as the sunflower butter can get pretty melty and sticky otherwise

1 comment:

Lisa at Sunny Seed Stories said...

Mm these sound delicious! I am definitely going to have to try them.