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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Granola Bars

Hey Guys!! Sorry for the mini-MIA, work and placement and life, yet again! It's so hard to find time to do anything but the abovementioned these days. Even if i have an hour or two here or there, im either eating, or sleeping, or eating some more =P. BUT placement will be finished in 3 weeks!! Althought i don't really want it to end at the moment, i'm really enjoying this block =(. BUT what's better than placement? HOLIDAYS!!! Yeaaaa buddy!! Although technically, it's not really considered holidays, since i'll have OFFICIALLY finished my degree.....so I guess it would be called unemployment......Oh God.

Anyways! Moving on, a few weeks ago I was wondering how I would be able to make use of all these random bits of ingredients I had left over from various recipes - most were nearing expiry and since most of them were nuts and seeds I thought HEY why not make some granola? So searching away as I do, I stumbled across this general granola bar formula on the Brown Eyed Baker's blog. I thought it was perfect for my purposes!


So it goes like this:

Basic Granola Bar Formula
1. Rolled Grains (2½ cups)
Suggestions: Oats, Rye flakes, Barley flakes, etc.

2. Nuts, Seeds & Spices (1 cup)
Suggestions: Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Pistachios, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Cinnamon, Ginger, etc.

3. Sticky Sweetener (1/3 cup + ¼ cup)
Suggestions: Honey, Agave Nectar, Molasses, Maple Syrup

4. Dried Fruits (1 cup)
Suggestions: Raisins, Apricots, Dates, Figs, Prunes, Cranberries, Pineapple, etc.

5. Binder (1 cup)
Suggestions: Pureed Dried Fruit, Apple Butter, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Unsweetened applesauce, etc.

Method
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetener, binder, spices (I used about 2 tsp of cinnamon and a tsp of vanilla extract). Stir in the rolled grains, making sure that it is evenly mixed and all of the grains are moistened. Mix in the nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

3. Turn the mixture out into the baking pan and press into the pan, making sure it is evenly distributed and tightly packed.

4. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the freezer until the bars are firm, at least 1 hour. Remove from the pan and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nuts processed to make nut butter!

Ok, so I pretty much had all the ingredients needed. Oats, million of nuts and seeds, in terms of sticky sweetener I decided to use molasses because I had a whole massive jar, dumped some dried fruits in and as a binder I decided to blend up some peanuts and use that and also some leftover lemon butter I picked up at the Good Food and Wine Show earlier this year. Sounds nice doesn’t it?


WRONG!! 

Omg. BIGGEST WASTE OF INGREDIENTS EVER. NO JOKE. Wanna know why? BECAUSE I had NO idea MOLASSES tasted THAT BAD!! I couldn’t believe it. I can't even describe the taste to you. Like a cross between tar and liquorice, which made me sick for a month back in the day (the liquorice not tar =P). Eugh. I know some people love the taste and rave on about molasses, but OMG. Never again. PLEASE. Yes, I have used it in recipes before, but only in verrrrry small amounts so that it gives that depth of flavour, but i've never tried it by itself and NEVER used such a large quantity! So yea, pretty much after baking it I dumped it in the bin =(. I nearly cried, all those nuts! All those oats! My precious dried fruit! And my expensive LEMON BUTTER!! Arghhh I was SOOOOO mad. BUT I was determined to make the bars! And lucky for me I had just enough ingredients left to both finish off all my leftover bits and pieces and make a much better granola bar formula. 


This time around I used oats, a mixture of nuts (hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts and almonds - yesss lots of little amounts of nuts), honey + golden syrup, dried fruits (dates chopped up, raisins, cranberries) and as my binder I used nutella.....which totally makes these not as healthy as they sound =P. But it worked, and it actually made them taste damn good.


My brother loved these, because they were quite satisfying as they were loaded with protein from the nuts and fibre from the oats. They were quite nice, and would probably make for a good snack before or after exercising, or if you’re on the go or in a hurry. Probably would wanna use something a bit better than nutella, maybe lite peanut butter? I've never actually heard of applesauce....Btw you can use mixtures of ingredients for each component listed i.e. you can use half oats and half barley flakes for the rolled grains, just like I used a mixture of nuts and a mixture of dried fruits. 

Overall, it was quite fun experimenting with different ingredients, the formula leaves a lot of room for that. You should all give it a go, see what you can come up with =D.

It did get a bit messy but with all the sweet honey and nutella and golden syrup..... 



 Enjoy (without molasses =P) =) xx

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