About a year ago, I started eating more packaged granola bars-like 1 a day. I had moved back in with my family whilst house hunting and saving money on rent, and the drive to work went from 10 minutes to 35+. I needed something easy to eat on the way to, or when I finally arrived at work. So I took it upon myself to find the best bang for my buck. Real food, oats and other grains, nuts and/or peanut butter, no HFCS (that’s high fructose corn syrup). And I did find a few, but I always thought, “I could make something better.” Especially since I had to constantly read labels. Being allergic to a few nuts and agave makes it difficult when looking for a good, healthy bar.
I found a recipe last winter, but never had the time to try it out. I was in between two places at that point. A few days a week at the family house, the rest at my boyfriends apartment across town. So making something with multiple steps that takes a while to cool down wasn’t in the recipe cards.
Cut to now in Tampa. As of yet I still don’t have a job (cross your fingers for all the apps and resumes I’ve put out) which means I have plenty of recipe testing time on my hands. The first attempt I stuck to the recipe for the most part, except one item that changed the texture of the entire batch; chocolate chips. I added them to the mix too soon and it just melted. So instead of lovely chunks through out my bar, it was in the entire mix, holding it together (yay!) but changing the flavor and texture into something totally different (boo!).
Yesterday I tried again. Changing up a number of things. Baking time, mixing method, ingredients, and even the pan I put them into. The original recipe is OK, but I feel like the changes I made take them to a-whole-nother level.
3/4 c maple syrup + 1 heaping T of orange marmalade
then, after it’s cooked down, add 1 T honey, I like local, raw honey if you can find it
I then used: 1/2 c slivered almonds, not whole ones, 1/4 cashew pcs, 2 T each chia seeds and amaranth, 1/4 c sunflower seeds, 1/2 c pepitas, the salt and I threw in a few golden raisins, about 1/4 of dried cranberries. Mix that altogether, and add the reduced date mixture making sure to coat it very well.
The pan: I used a 1/4 sheet pan instead of the pan they use. The first time I tried it, they were SO THICK. 1/4 sheet pan, or a 9×13 would work best. Use parchment, spray EVERYTHING or even the parchment will stick. Put half the mixture down and spread it out, then sprinkle that layer with however many chocolate chips you want. PRESS FIRMLY, I used a rubber spatula. Then add the rest of the oat mixture and repeat.
I only baked it for about 42 minutes, and I definitely recommend using a foil tent, otherwise your oats will get super dark, almost burnt. Take the tent off for the last 10 minutes, but keep and eye on it.
The beauty is you can add or take away what ingredients you want/like. I wish I had more cranberries (my favorite) but you could do anything-blueberries, more raisins, tropical fruits. Next time I might try adding a little peanut butter to the mix some how. Or even peanut butter chips. Now I have something healthy to eat around the house while I wait for that phone call and interviews. Enjoy!