Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chewy Peanut Butter or Almond Granola Bars

You just can't trust what's in food these days.  Chemicals, hormones, additives, and crazy DNA that shouldn't be there.  I try to cook from scratch as much as possible for my day to day cooking so I know what goes into my food.  A lot of store-bought granola bars claim to be healthy and natural, but they're anything but.

These are my current favorite granola bars.  And let me tell you my favorite way to eat them--straight out of the freezer.  I know, weird, right?  But I actually make a big batch of them and wrap them all separately and store them in the freezer.  (Tip:  I store them in my regular freezer which is set to keep things frozen, but not rock hard like a deep freeze does.  So I can still actually bite into them straight from the freezer.  You might want to adjust your freezer's temperature setting if your ice cream freezes like a brick.)  You can store these at room temperature too.

More and more, I am trying to use organic as much as possible in my everyday cooking, which are things we eat on a regular basis.  I am very limited in my rural area and yes, organic items cost a lot, but I do try.  So if you want to really up the healthy aspect of these, use organic ingredients.  I was excited to see some organic Smucker's natural peanut butter the other day.

PS.  Mississippi Kitchen is getting a makeover and a brand new home.  We have been feverishly working behind the scenes to make this happen, and by we I mean the person I have hired to do all this tedious work.  Stay with me please because some good things are coming soon.  (Like a recipe index, hallelujah!)  I am still here, alive, and cooking up a storm, but trying to hold off a lot of blogging until my transfer is done.  You understand, don't you?  I *knew* you would.  :)

Here are my notes:

--I use both almond butter and peanut butter.  If I make them with almond butter, I use chopped almonds, and if I make them with peanut butter, I use chopped walnuts.  Both of these nut butters will require stirring before measuring.

--I leave the nuts raw because I have read they are better for you this way.  I LOVE the flavor of toasted nuts, but this is a great way to get my share of raw nuts since I don't love eating raw nuts plain.

--I am sure you could use whole oats.  I just usually have quick oats on hand.

--I try to use raw, unprocessed honey which is so much better for you.

--Press the mixture in tightly with the back of a spatula or you can even use the bottom of a measuring cup.

--The chia seeds.  Yes, they are weird but very nutritious.  They form a gel like substance around them when they get wet.  It's strange.

--I have found the easiest way to wrap these is to stick one in a cheap sandwich bag and fold it over, the kind that are not zip lock (because you would use too many and that would be expensive), but fold over  instead.  I think they are sold about a 150 to a box.

Chewy Peanut Butter or Almond Granola Bars

Printable Recipe

5 cups quick oats
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups chopped raw walnuts or almonds
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup honey (preferably raw organic)
6 heaping tablespoons natural style peanut butter or almond butter (preferably organic)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, chia seeds, and nuts.
  2. Place the butter, honey, peanut butter or almond butter, brown sugar,  and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook until melted  and smooth, whisking often.
  3. Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir well.  Line a 13 x 9  inch metal pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Press the mixture well into the bottom of the pan using a spatula.  
  5. Freeze for several hours before cutting into squares.  I like wrap these individually and store them in the freezer.  They can be eaten cold or brought to room temperature.

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