>> Thursday, February 19, 2009
We like granola bars around here. They're fairly substantial, and you can tuck all kinds of good things in them. Once upon a time we bought our bars at the store, but so many contain HFCS or else don't appeal to my son that I switched to making them myself. (Plus, they're really easy to make, and I've found it's cheaper to make them myself.) Until recently, my go-to recipe has been the chewy granola bar recipe I posted about a few months ago. Now we have another recipe to add to the mix.
We've been making the Grab 'n' Go Crispy Granola Bars from the Sneaky Chef cookbook by Missy Chase Lapine lately, and they're a hit! Have you heard about the Sneaky Chef? It's hook is "Simple strategies for hiding healthy foods in kids' favorite meals." In a nutshell, it's a cookbook that hides pureed vegetables, whole grains, and healthy juices in foods that appeal to kids.
Not everyone is a fan of hiding vegetables and such in foods for kids, but I am. I think that it's a great option when you have a picky eater and it just makes sense to me to bulk up our food with good stuff. My husband and I have found that we like many of our meals better when we add pureed vegetables to our meals - like pureed sweet potatoes to taco meat or spaghetti sauce. And while I don't always advertise that I'm sneaking in vegetable purees to my son's favorite foods, I don't hide the fact either. I think that if you continue to offer the whole, unhidden vegetable as part of a child's meals, sneaking in some vegetables is not a bad thing!
Back to the cookbook... I've only tried a couple of the recipes in my Sneaky Chef cookbook, but they've both been hits. There are quite a few tasty looking recipes that I'll try in the future. We also have Jessica Seinfield's Deceptively Delicious - another cookbook with the sneaky premise - and it also has many great recipes (her turkey chili is a favorite of ours). They both take a bit of work to get the purees made, but you can get a lot of payoff for just a little bit of work if you freeze the purees in small serving sizees. The purees in the Sneaky Chef cookbook are more complicated because they use more ingredients than those in the Deceptively Delicious cookbook, which is one reason why I haven't used the Sneaky Chef cookbook very much. I like simple. If you have a picky eater or would just like to add some nutritious goodness to your regular meals, check these books out.
And now the granola bars... These particular granola bars are fairly delicate. We call them "cookie bars" because they're surprisingly sweet and aren't chunky (and well, anything is better if you call it a cookie). Kids and adults all like them. My son won't touch them if they have dried fruit in them, but some raisins or dried blueberries would be a great addition. I'd bet some flax meal would be a good addition too. I fiddled with this recipe very slightly, but I would love to hear any changes that you bakers out there might make to it!
Grab 'n' Go Crispy Granola Bars
2/3 cup rolled oats, ground in a food processor
1/2 cup almonds, ground in a food processor (omit if allergic and add another 1/3 cup of ground oats instead)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup crispy brown rice cereal (or Rice Krispies if you aren't concerned about HFCS)
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup raisins or dried blueberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 315 F. Line a 9" square or a 13x9" baking pan completely with foil and lightly spray with oil.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, almonds (if using), wheat germ, cereal, dry milk, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in the oil, honey, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips (and/or dried fruit). Mix well, then pour into the prepared baking pan. Press down with palm of hand, evenly distributing the mixture into the corners of the dish and back for 18-20 min.
Cut into bars while still warm. Bars will set up as they cool. Let bars cool completely before removing from aluminum foil.
Do you have a favorite homemade granola-type bar? Care to share?