Last weekend, we visited campus to attend the swim team’s final home meet for the season. Before leaving for our trip, I went through my treasured recipes to prepare a few baked favorites for all three children. M’s favorite is a no-brainier… She loves Old Fashioned Baked Oatmeal. I usually make her a 9×13″ pan, cut into squares and packaged in an airtight container. I’m told she usually skips the dorm breakfast and opts for a big bowl of plain yogurt paired with a crumbled square of my baked oatmeal.
P is more of a junk food kinda kid. He loves plain ole’ chocolate chip cookies. I usually make Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies. I’m told he shares them with floor mates and friends so I usually try to make a rather large batch for sharing. Who can resist a batch of freshly baked cookies?
K is a mix between the two when it comes to choosing a favorite baked item. Her care package contained a batch of Nutella Granola bars. For this easy bar, all of the ingredients are combined and pressed into a 13×9″ baking dish. They are then sliced and wrapped individually for freshness and portability. The bars are full of good hearty carbs and are sweetened by combining Nutella with peanut butter and honey. This is a great no-bake recipe that can be prepared in a jiffy. Make sure to individually wrap the bars to keep them fresh and pliable.
Nutella Granola Bars
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup honey or light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup Nutella
Preheat oven to 400°. In a jelly roll pan, pour oats, peanuts, wheat germ and sunflower kernels. Mix thoroughly and bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter and Nutella until blended.
Add the warm honey mixture to the dry, toasted ingredients and toss to coat. Press into a greased 13×9″ pan. Cool. Cut into bars. Wrap individually with plastic wrap. Store in an air-tight container.
During the course of a week, I make several batches of granola bars for my family. There are a few recipes that I use quite frequently and for varying purpose. Take for instance, the Grunt Bars I make when I am looking to boost protein levels, I make Curley Power Bars when I am wanting to provide a recovery bar after a long meet or practice. This recipe for Everyday Granola Bars is one that I usually pack into lunch boxes or have waiting on the counter when kids arrive home from school hungry and looking for something to eat.
I’m a firm believer that providing the family with healthy choices will encourage children to make better food choices for life. I try to stock the fridge and pantry with lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and yogurt so that when kids come home famished, they can quickly grab something healthy to tide them over until supper time.
This recipe is easy to adapt to satisfy your family’s preference. Add dried cranberries or raisins, almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds. We just adore dried apricots in this recipe as well. Change things up as you like. Enjoy!
Everyday Granola Bars
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coat an 11X7″ baking pan with cooking spray, set aside. Place oats, almonds and dates in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly, set aside. In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm honey and peanut butter; stir until smooth, creamy and pourable. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over oats, dates, and nuts, stir to coat completely.
Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Evenly pat down mixture to completely fill the pan. Cover and let stand until set; about 30 minutes. Cut into bars. For added freshness, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store in air-tight container.
Making your own granola bars at home can certainly be more nutritious for your family and is definitely a money saving idea. A box of granola bars can range in price from a moderate $2 up to as much as $7, which is really quite expensive. Often, one can only guess at the ingredients that are included in the nutrition facts label. Ingredient names that I can’t recognize or pronounce are always a red flag for me.
While this recipe isn’t the most nutritious of the bunch in my recipe box, it certainly is easy to make and I like the fact that it’s a no-bake recipe that can be made during the late summer months when the air conditioner shouldn’t have to compete with a hot oven. I often add nuts, seeds and dried berries for added texture, nutrition, and flavor. I wrap the cooled and cut bars in plastic wrap so that they stay fresh and are easily packed for travel. This is a great “kids in the kitchen” recipe.
Easy No- Bake Granola Bites
2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light (reduced sugar) corn syrup or honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
Spray a 13×9″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. Bring the brown sugar and syrup (or honey) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until blended. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated; let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Stir in the chocolate chips. Press mixture into prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap to preserve freshness.