I think my husband's favorite homemade food is granola. Inspired by his love for yogurt, fruit and granola but wanting to find a lower-fat option than what you can buy in the store, I started making homemade granola when we lived in London and continue to make a huge batch every month. It is really easy, so much healthier and it allows you to customize the contents to your liking. At the Levy household, we prefer ours with sliced almonds, coconut, raw pumpkin seeds and relatively little sugar. If the idea of making your own granola seems daunting or you just don't want to buy all of the ingredients, you could always try Mix My Granola, which allows you to customize your own granola and have it delivered to your doorstep. I've never tried it, but I am curious.
I'll post about my granola-making method some other time because today I want to write about a great recipe I found in the March 2011 Fitness Magazine. We've been eating a lot of granola bars on the ski slopes this winter and I am always struck by the lack of enticing options in the grocery store and the fact that many granola bars that appear healthy or high in sugar and fat. Fitness Magazine included a recipe for "Oh-So-Good Granola Bars" that I had to try. If you visit the magazine's website and look at their recipe, you'll see that I've changed it a bit to customize the recipe to my tastes... I added coconut and more nuts but decreased the sugar. These are a great way to use up miscellaneous items in your pantry and they are an awesome weekday snack or perfect to wrap individually and take with you on a hike or ski trip.
Homemade Granola Bars (adapted from Fitness Magazine)
Yield - 24 bar
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 35 minutes
Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup rolled oats (I used old fashioned rolled oats rather than quick cooking but I think either will work)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut (available with the nuts and dried fruit or the baking section of most grocery stores)
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
(This is what I included, but consider adding sunflower seeds, other types of nuts, dried fruit, spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, peanuts, whole grain cereal, etc. Anything that you enjoy having in granola or a granola bar would be great.)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set pan aside.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, both flours and the coconut. Add egg, applesauce, honey, brown sugar, and oil and mix well. Stir in walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips (and other other ingredients you choose to add). Be sure that the mixture comes together in a fairly cohesive ball.
- Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool completely on a wire rack. Use edges of foil to lift cooked granola from pan, and cut into bars.