Friday, February 20, 2009

Granola Bar Love

Remember what Alvy Singer says to Annie Hall when she asks if he loves her? "Love is too weak a word." he says. "I lerve you. I luff you. There are two f's."

Oddly enough, I think of this very exchange when I eat one of these granola bars. My sentiments surpass love and move on to lerve. And I don't go there often.
These bars are crunchy. They're chewy. They're sweet but not too much. They're a treat that's healthy enough to grab for a quick breakfast.

Now that I've talked them up so much you'll try the recipe and shrug. "Eh? " You'll say. "What's the big deal?" Maybe you won't luff them. But I'm willing to bet you'll like them pretty well. What follows is the recipe that I've tweaked and that I like. The parentheses show variations that you may prefer to the original.

Chewy Crunchy Granola Bars

2 c rolled oats
1 c unsweetened coconut
1 c sliced or whole almonds
1/2 c oat bran (or wheat germ)
1/2-3/4 c dates, diced
1/2-3/4 c dried cranberries (or any other dried fruit)
3 Tb butter or coconut oil (or canola)
2/3 c rice syrup (or part agave, honey or maple syrup-any natural liquid sweetener)
1/4 c Rapadura (or sucanat or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

Mix oats, coconut and sliced almonds (if using) in 9x13 pan. Toast in a 350 oven for 5-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. You may have to stir this once halfway through. (If you're using whole almonds toast separately and chop)

In large bowl combine oat bran (or wheat germ) with dried fruit. Mix well to keep sticky fruit from clumping together. Add oat mixture to this when it's finished toasting. Lower oven temp to 300.

Line your 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and grease it.

Combine oil or butter, liquid sweetener, Rapadura (or brown sugar), and salt in sauce pan. Bring to boil and cook 2 - 3 minutes. No more! Take off heat. Stir in vanilla.

Pour over oat and fruit mixture and stir well to combine. With wet hands, press into pan.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

When cool enough to handle use aluminum foil to lift the whole thing onto cooling rack. Cut into bars. Store airtight.

Tips and Variations
If you use a sweeter sweetener (like honey) use dried fruit on the tart side (like cranberries). If you use mostly rice syrup (not so sweet) go for a sweeter fruit.

Chocolate Chewy Granola Bars: Sprinkle with chocolate when bars come out of oven. Spread it out as it melts.

Sweet and Salty: I haven't tried this yet but I think it would be GREAT in this recipe: Simply replace the almonds with 1 1 /2 cups salted mixed nuts. Proceed as usual.

And don't forget to enjoy one of those lerve-ly granola bars with a double short soy latte with a bit of orange peel and lots of foam. Ooooo! Enjoy!