In order to stay sane, and make sure the man is eating properly (no more Jack in the Box!!!) I've made some (healthy) granola bars. Not that over-sweetened crap from the grocery store.
At this point in my cooking career, I'm feeling like a bit or a rebel. Recipes? Who needs those! Rogue cook in the house!
Anyways, I browsed a bunch of recipes last night in my election insomnia. (Well, I did shut the computer around 9:30, so maybe not exactly insomnia, but I did get ready and into bed at at 8:00 sharp!)
After looking at (of course) Smitten Kitchen and also Alexandria's Kitchen I still felt like those recipes weren't quite what I wanted... In my head I was thinking, chewy, fruity but not too sweet (sugar still has the same dreaded effects on some adults, just like little kids).
Also, we love ginger and I thought it would add a nice touch.
Here's what I came up with:
Grown-Up Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut (if you want less sweet use unsweetened)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds*
1/4 cup candied ginger minced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup dried apricots diced
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup almond butter**
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown rice syrup***
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Tear a pice of parchment about 12" wide. Combine the oats, sunflower seeds and almonds spread into a 13x19" baking pan and toast, stirring half way about 20 minutes.
While the oats are toasting chop your apricots and candied ginger. In a large bowl combine the ginger and apricots with the shredded coconut, cherries, cranberries, sesame seeds and flax meal, toss together.
In a small sauce pan on low heat the almond butter, vanilla, brown rice syrup and honey. Wisk to form a homogenous caramel looking syrup (it should be rather viscous). Do not let it boil! Just mix until it's uniform.
By now your oats should be toasty, dump the oat nut mixture into the dried fruit mixture, toss together. Take a quick moment to grease your 13x19" pan and then line it with the parchment (think of the parchment and pan making a cross shape, the parchment is meant to hang off the longer side of the pan it is really just a sling so you can pull the bars out easier at the end).
Dump your (still warm) sweetener syrup into the oat-fruit mixture and mix! Make sure all the oats and fruit and evenly coated. Press evenly into your lined, greased baking pan.
Bake in your oven for 10 minutes, then turn your oven off and let the pan sit in there for 20 minutes more. Remove, let cool and cut into bars, squares whatever the heck you like!
PS. My cousin asked if these could be nut free and I say DUH!!! (Let's not go into how many diet restricted friends I have.)
Here would be my substitutions:
*Instead of almonds use more sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds or dried fruit! Or really, anything! Mini choco chips?
**for almond butter I would use 3T coconut oil or another soil shortening (margarine, Earth Balance... gasp, even... butter) and then add another 1/2 cup flax meal, wheat bran or oat flour (just whizz some oats in the food processor).
*** In an effort to move away from corn products I favor brown rice syrup. But regular old Karo Light will work here too.
Remember cooking is really about ratios, so keep the amount of filling:fats:sugar the same and you'll be golden!