Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

            When I was a kid, I used to love to find a chewy granola bar packed in my lunch.  The kind with the chocolate chips, of course.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I am trying to avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, soybean oil, safflower oil,  ingredients I can't pronounce, oh I could go on.  But like with everything else, at some point these preservative laden snacks were without.  They had to start somewhere of course.  Someone didn't just say "well, how am I going to use this polysorbate 80 today?"

              So for the kids as always, of course, I decided to try and produce a granola bar that was similar to the one I used to find in my lunch box.  It had oats in it to promote it as a healthy food, but as a kid I barely noticed them due to those awesome chocolate chips and rice cereal crunchiness.

              I wanted to avoid using actual sugar, so I decided to use agave nectar.   Agave is great, because it is as sweet as sugar, but has a low glycemic index.  It actually tastes similar to honey.  So if you want, you can do half agave and half honey, or all honey.  Honey does have a higher glycemic index than agave.  Agave is also safe for infants to consume as opposed to honey which is not.  You can read more about agave here.

  1. 1 Cup dark agave nectar (or 1/2 Cup agave and 1/2 Cup honey)
  2. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  3. 1/2 Cup almond butter or peanut. I used almond(or leave out if there are any tree nut allergies in your house)
  4. 2 Cups rice cereal
  5. 2 Cups rolled oats (not the quick cook kind)
  6. 1/2 Cup ground flaxseed meal
  7. 1 Cup chocolate chips
You can of course include dried fruits as well depending on your preference.

Prepare a baking dish by covering the bottom and sides with plastic wrap.  The spray the wrap with cooking spray.

Place the agave nectar along with the vanilla extract and heat over medium heat.  You need to heat it so that the almond butter dissolves.  It also is easier to coat the oats and cereal when it is heated up.  I got the nectar up to a boil.

Add the almond or peanut butter once the nectar boils.  Stir until it is dissolved.

Remove the pot from the heat.  Stir in the oats, cereal, and flaxseed meal until it is all coated.

Add your chocolate chips or dried fruit now if you wish.

Pour the mixture into your baking dish and flatten it out so that it evenly coats the dish.

Cover the dish and place in the refrigerator to chill and solidify. It should take about 2 hours, or you can leave overnight.

When you are ready to cut the bars, use the plastic wrap on the bottom of the dish to easily pull the granola block out and set it on your counter.  Now you can easily cut it to the shape of your desire.

I suggest wrapping each bar individually and storing them in your refrigerator.

The texture is great.  The rice cereal gives them a bit of crunch.  You can really sink your teeth into them.  You won't miss not having cane sugar in these.  The agave and or honey mixture definitely is plenty sweet.  The chocolate satisfies any chocolate lovers craving.  This is a snack you can feel good about giving to your kids.


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