Last night I couldn't wait to go to sleep. Going to bed earlier meant morning would get here faster and I'd be able to make these granola bars! I played around with the recipe last night, hoping that the changes/additions that I made would turn out well today. For the most part, they did! I was pleasantly surprised with these. They are chewy, not too sweet (which is what I was going for), and most notably, healthy!! These bars are full of energy and are a great way to start off your morning or enjoy as a mid-day snack.
Yield: 12-16 bars
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats (toasted)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds ( I used roasted, salted, & shelled)
- 2 Tbsp ground flax
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 chopped almonds (toasted)
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/3 cup agave nectar
- 1/3 cup almond milk (I used vanilla)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray an 8 by 12-inch baking dish with non-stick spray and line it with parchment paper. Tip: allow parchment paper to hang over edges of pan. It will be easier to remove bars later. (Thanks Giada!)
3. Toss oats and almonds on a sheet pan and bake for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. I didn't have any chopped almonds on hand, so I used natural whole almonds and pulsed them a few times in the food processor.
4. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add wheat germ, sunflower seeds, whole wheat flour, and cinnamon. These are your dry ingredients.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
6. In another mixing bowl, add almond milk, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and ground flax. Whisk together.
7. Cut the bananas into chunks and stir into wet mixture. Use a potato masher or fork to further mash the bananas. Stir in dried cranberries. These are your wet ingredients.
8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well.
9. Scoop/pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Press mixture down evenly.
10. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes until edges are light golden brown and bars are slightly firm to touch. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. Cut into bars (or any shape you want). Place left over bars in an air-tight container to keep them fresh.
I wasn't expecting these to turn out as chewy as they did. I think the banana and the whole wheat flour may have something to do with it. I am going to experiment again soon, but next time I will probably cut out both of those and see what happens. I didn't want to add brown sugar to these, so I thought the banana would add the sweetness that the bars needed. I am also going to add more varieties of dried fruit next time.
There is no added granulated sugar in these bars. I decided to use organic, raw agave nectar instead. It has a glycemic index under 30, unlike granulated sugar that averages in the high 60's. Agave nectar is less likely to spike blood sugar as well. The sweetness comes from a form of fructose (aka the sugar found in fruit). The darker kind, which is what we have, is more raw, meaning that it has been less processed, in comparison to the light-colored agave nectar. It's a good substitute, and since it is less refined, I feel a little healthier using it. :)
I found this link to be very informative, if anyone is interested!
UPDATE: I found these to taste even better the next day. I would recommend baking them a day ahead of time if you can. :)
Process almonds in a food processor, then toss oats and almonds together on a sheet pan lined with parchment (I use parchment for everything. Nothing sticks to it, I love it!!). Toast in oven until slightly golden and aromatic, then place in medium sized mixing bowl.
Did you know?
Soluble fiber, such as oats, delays glucose absorption in the GI tract.
Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl
Stir together dry ingredients
Combine wet ingredients: Almond milk, agave nectar, vanilla extract, ground flax. Whisk together.
Cut up the ripe banana, and mash into wet ingredients
Add dried cranberries to wet ingredients, whisk together.
Now add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix together well
Scoop out the oat mixture onto parchment-lined pan.
Press mixture down evenly
Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes
Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack
Cut into bars, and serve!
I enjoyed mine with a glass of vanilla almond milk. Yum!!