Oats and dried fruit go into Ellen's awesome granola bars.
Note: Poor, Drunk and Hungry is officially a “we,” because now you have two witty Whittle sisters bringing you advice and musings on food! I (Kate) just graduated college, and Ellen is an incoming freshman, so she’s coming on board! You’ll find she cusses less and actually cares about healthy eating. But other than that, well, we’ve always said we’re just twins born four years apart. Here’s her first post.
So I’ve been cooking and baking for a few months now, and learning everything the hard way and having a great time doing it. Part of my recent interest in cooking is my sudden desire to eat healthy. I began to actually look at nutrition labels and understand what was good or bad. I would be ashamed of myself for not knowing this sooner, except I think I might not be alone in this. Anyway, the benefit of making something yourself is that you know exactly what’s in it. That might seem obvious, but it took me seventeen years to figure out.
With that in mind: granola bars! Whenever you find recipes for these they’re usually under the kids’ snacks section, which I think is bull crap. I love granola bars. They’re handy for cold lunches, breakfast, and best of all, hiking. Sure, you can find those low-carb ones they sell at about five per box, but damn, they’re expensive.* (On a vaguely-related side note, I once tried to figure out if movie popcorn is literally worth its weight in gold. Turns out it’s definitely not, but that’s still some mighty big price markup.)
The great thing about granola bars is that you probably have enough crap in your kitchen to throw together a random batch at any given point. I hate having to shop for special ingredients.
When I’m making the bars for myself, I use applesauce, but my mom likes to use eggs so when I’m making them for my parents I use one beaten egg. Applesauce makes for a softer, more moist bar. The egg makes a harder granola bar, probably more suited for carrying with you on hikes and stuff. As to the main flavor of the bar, you can totally mess around with this. You can throw in raisins, Craisins, nuts, seeds, marshmallows, whatever you like. Or you can toss in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to make more of a delicious cookie.
Ellen’s Best Homemade Granola Bars Ever
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup crisped rice cereal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour**
3/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, almonds, whatever you please
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup applesauce (or 1 egg, beaten)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together honey, oil, egg/applesauce and flavor extracts. Make a well in the bottom of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet mixture.
Once mixed, pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking oil. When pouring it into the pan, use a spatula to manhandle the batter into a thin square, and use your fingers to press the edges firm. (Be OCD about it or the edges will be crumbly when you cut it up, and make you mad because you want perfect store-bought shaped granola bars. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) A standard size baking sheet is fine even though it won’t take up the whole sheet.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Give them five minutes to cool, and then cut them up before they get too hard. If you cut them into fairly good size bars it’ll make 12. Then feed them to some passing children because apparently adults*** can’t eat granola bars.
Screw that. Eat them all yourself!
*Plus, the idea of a low-carb granola bar is stupid. –Ed
**You can substitute equal parts white and wheat flour if you don’t have whole-wheat pastry flour on hand. –Ed.
***It’s cute how freshman girls think they’re adults, isn’t it? –Ed.