Saturday, April 2, 2011

Granola Bars - another healthy snack to make and store

The summer has set in and it is hot beyond belief already - what happened to the slight cool wind that was blowing last week???? The l'il one doesn't understand why the weather has turned so hostile and he has to stay in during the day? Also, the appetite has suddenly shrunk and all he wants to do is sip on liquids and munch on something light. He is isn't much of a fruit fan so have been thinking of various ways to get some fruit into his diet but making sure the snack / food is wholesome (using whole wheat, puffed rice and oats) and these is a "YUMMY" element to it otherwise, it doesn't get eaten! Made some fresh mangoes and cream lollies, strawberry and yogurt mousse but those posts are for another day!

My love affair with Granola started way back in 2000 when I went to study in the US. I put on the freshmen 15 (more like 25) in the first year and the latter years were always spent in combating this weight gain. I wasn't a drinker or a big fan of pizzas but when dinner was done and over with at 800pm and there were long hours of programming looking up at you, one needed some carbs to survive the night! In the day we would snack on high carb cafeteria food - either loaded potatoes, pasta, cheeze grilled, donuts and the works, also there was unlimited soda (Gosh, never in my life had I been allowed more than a glass), also the lovely sugary cereals (I could have lived on Lucky Charms) - you're getting the drift. Once I realized what hit me I had to start putting in the appropriate measures and putting the rights stops to make sure I went down from a size 8 and never reached that weight again!

Healthy wholesome food became my mantra - granola bars, whole wheat bread, pita with veggies and lean meats, no soda and a little help from Slim Fast too...  yes very desperate measures. But when I got myself a job and was living on my own my eating habits just improved and it was always home cooked meals for me and the weight started shedding on its own!

Anyway's, wayy off the topic I am - so I thought I would do some oat cookies since he had give up those a while back with some fruit (figs, dates, strawberries) and some nuts and chocolate chips??? But, then I didn't want to add flour to my recipe and neither did I want to spend an hour for making something in this heat ( = no beating butter, sugar, eggs, making dough, cooling dough, shaping dough). yet, I needed something he could carry down with him when he goes to the park in the day or place in his snack box when he starts school... and then it dawned to me why not make his some granola bars and cut them into bite size pieces for him?

I first raided my pantry to see what I had on hand? Then the internet to look up some recipes - Granola Bars need - Grains (Oats), Dried Fruit (Figs, Dates, cranberry), Nuts, Liquid to Bind (Oil, Honey, Butter, Egg) and you are good to put it all together! Phew, I thought I would just put it together with whatever I had and if the recipe turned out fine and got "APPROVED" then would do a re-run of it later. So, it turns out I had not dried fruits but read on to what I had and how it turned out...

So here goes

2 cups quick cooking oats (recipes usually call for old- fashioned oats but I didn't have any)
1/2 cup roasted almonds coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted walnuts coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup strawberry jam
3/4 cup brown sugar

Roast the almonds and walnuts and coarsely chop in a mixie. Preheat the oven to 177F.

Put the oats, chopped almonds and walnuts together. Then added the chopped and dried fresh strawberries (you can use any dry food - I just had none on hand). Sprinkled the sugar on top and mixed it well.

I then added the oil - first 1/4cup and then another 1/4 cup and saw that it wasn't binding enough and it wasn't fruity enough. Now, most bars have honey, which is a taste I don't like. Also, golden syrup, glucose or maple syrup were options but then I wanted to heighten the taste of the strawberries so in went all the strawberry preserves I had and I just mixed it all together.

Yum, it tasted fine now and had just the right tang to it! I put it in a rectangle baking dish and then sprinkled the chocolate chips on top (the yummy factor to entice the toddler) and baked it at 177F for 25 degrees.

Cut it into rectangle and bite sized pieces for the toddler and enjoy. But, let me warn you, the mother may enjoy the healthy treat more than the child!

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