Chewy Granola Bars (that don’t fall apart)

 

It’s cold here in the Pacific Northwest and just today it really started to get me down. Creating something in the kitchen (unlike budget planning and sales/marketing work) always lifts my spirits. These bars will give you a serious boost and keep you going while you chase down tax documents or write marketing plans or get frustrated with your children or just need a snack or breakfast or dessert. They might also help you use up bits and pieces–I finally used up some golden raisins leftover from holiday baking last year in this batch.

 

Type of seeds, nuts, spices, nut/seed butters are all up to you. These are not very sweet and only a little crunchy around the edges though if you made them thinner and baked them a little longer they would be more so. I really like the chew and that they actually stick together . . . no trail of oats and bits following you around with these.

 

And please look around my new website. I’m happy and proud to share it and would love to know what you think. Here’s a quick site demo video focusing on some of the new elements of the site (I’ve added resources related to my journey with breast cancer) so you can have a look at the back-end that’s All yours if you subscribe! And for you special blog followers use discount code eatwell19 for 30% off!

 

Enjoy!

 

Chewy Granola Bars

You could add ground cinnamon or ginger or instant espresso powder.

 

2 cups rolled oats

½ cup seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower)

1 cup nuts, roughly chopped (I used mostly almonds)

½ cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 ½ cups dried fruit, chopped up a bit (I used mostly golden raisins, some dates and a handful of dried mulberries)

2 tablespoons fruit juice (I used 1/2 a grapefruit’s worth)

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon almond butter (tahini, etc.)

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon honey (a little more if you like a sweeter bar)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

½ teaspoon salt

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 x 13″ pan with parchment paper.

 

Since my dried fruit was really dry I squeezed half a grapefruit over it and let that sit while I toasted the oats, etc. I liked the little added tartness it added but if your dried fruit is not so dry you can probably skip this.

 

Spread oats, nuts and seeds on a sheet pan and bake for 6-8 minutes until toasty smelling and the oats are a bit golden. Dump into a bowl to cool.

 

Turn oven down to 350.

 

Warm nut/seed butter and honey in a small saucepan until it’s nice and runny.

 

Put (somewhat) cooled oat mixture in food processor with coconut, dried fruit + juice, cocoa and salt and pulse a few times. Add almond butter honey mixture and pulse again until well mixed but still has plenty of texture. Spread evenly in pan and press down evenly with a lightly oiled hand and bake ate 350 for 18-20 minutes. Partially cool then cut and store.

Baked Apples

Here are the key ingredients for this dish though any number of substitutions for the nuts and dried fruit would be great . . .raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or apricots; almonds, pecans. . . .

I’m testing all kinds of healthy desserts for part of a series of classes I’m teaching at Columbia Sportswear this fall. I know ‘healthy’ is a terribly subjective term but I’m focusing on dishes that traditionally don’t use lots of refined sugars and flours (like these Baked Apples) or adapting ones that do, to use less of those things.

Baked Apples filled with walnuts, dates, a little butter and coconut sugar.

It’s a lot of  fun and I loved these apples I made last night for our dessert and loved them even more for breakfast this morning with Greek yogurt and maple syrup. Many European countries have a variation of this dish (which is also delicious with pears) and I grew up with some German renditions of this. The below recipe was loosely inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s in Around my French Table, however, I simplified it significantly. Enjoy!

I’m also having fun testing soups these days in preparation for Fall Soup Class which still has a few spots. So far I think there will be a pureed chickpea soup with cumin and lemon; a leek soup; a potato chowder and a soup with different kinds of beans and greens!

Breakfast of baked apples topped with Greek yogurt and maple syrup.

Baked Apples 

4 apples, cut in half, peeled and cored (or pears or quince)

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pecans

1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit (dates, raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, prunes or apricots)

2-3 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (or 1 -2 tablespoons honey)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup apple cider or water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the apples cut side up in the 9 x 13 baking pan. They should be fairly snug so they stay upright and hold their filling. Put a small piece of butter into each hollow (where the core used to be)

In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, sugar (or honey), salt and nuts and dried fruit. Divide this mixture evenly among the hollows of the 8 halves. Dot each half with another piece of butter. Pour the cider or water into the pan and sprinkle the remaining butter onto the liquid in the pan.

Bake until the apples are nice and tender (but not falling apart) which can be anywhere from 45 – 70 minutes depending on the size and kind of your apple. Baste with the buttery juice every 15 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes before eating or eat at room temperature as is or with Greek yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream.