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Deliciously Organic: Granola Bars

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Granola Bars

I've started at least 5 posts this weekend without completing a single one.  At first, I thought I'd apologize for not having much to say, but I came across this passage while reading My Life in France:

I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make.  When one's hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as, "Oh, I don't know how to cook..." or "Poor little me..." or "This may taste awful..." it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not.  Besides such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, "Yes, you're right, this really is an awful meal!"...Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is.  And if the food is truly vile...then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile - and learn from her mistakes."

How true is this?  How many times have we made excuses for our cooking or heard others make excuses?  Isn't it completely awkward for both parties?  I've done this so many times - usually I say, "Oh, and the crust is whole wheat, in case you notice it tastes more 'wheaty' than you're accustomed to."  Why do I do this?  I'm actually a very confident cook, but when I serve my food to people who I know mainly eat processed foods, I feel like I need to give an explanation.  I've also been on the receiving end where a friend apologizes for her food (honestly, if someone makes me mac and cheese from a box I'm happy because I didn't have to make it myself....not that I advocate eating from a box). 

I completely agree with Julia Child and think we could all use a little kick in the pants and a reminder that if we're in the kitchen at all, cooking for just ourselves, a group of friends, or our family, that alone is cause for celebration and something to be proud of! 

So in keeping with the spirit of "no excuses," I'm excited to share a new granola bar recipe I whipped up this weekend.  My offering: toasted oats, crisp almonds, sweet shredded coconut, and dried fruit drizzled with whole cane sugar and maple syrup then baked until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  It's a snack you can take with you just about anywhere.  I know you'll love it!

By the way congrats to KJB!  You're the winner of the chef's torch!  Please email me your information at deliciouslyorganic [at] yahoo [dot] com. 

Granola Bars
I've included two variations for this recipe.  The first is a "regular" method and the second is a soaked method.  If you'd like to read more about soaking click here and here.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Yields 12-16 bars

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup finely shredded coconut
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar or sucanat (to read more click here)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (unsulphered preferred)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 11 x 7 baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Put the oatmeal, almonds and coconut on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Pour oatmeal mixture into a large bowl and add the cranberries and apricots.  Put the butter, maple sugar, organic whole can sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat.  Stir together until sugar has dissolved and then pour over the oatmeal mixture.  Stir until syrup coats mixture.  Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture with the back of a spoon evenly in the pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, until light golden brown.  Cool for 2-3 hours before cutting into squares.

Soaked Method:  The night before pour almonds in a large bowl and cover with water.  Add 1 tablespoon sea salt and stir.  Pour oats into another large bowl and cover with water.  Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and stir.  Leave both bowls at room temperature overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 170 degrees.  Strain almonds and oats (oats will be a very wet so press gently in the colander to release as much moisture as possible).  Spread almonds on sheet pan and the oats on an separate sheet pan.  Bake in oven for 12 hours, or until crispy. 

Pour oats into a large mixing bowl and crumble with your hands if they are clumped together.  Add almonds, apricots, and cranberries. Pour coconut into a large skillet and toast until golden over low heat.  Add to almond mixture.

Place the butter, maple sugar, organic whole can sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir together until sugar has dissolved and then pour over the oatmeal mixture. Stir until syrup coats mixture. Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture with the back of a spoon evenly in the pan.  Bake in oven for 4-5 hours, until golden brown.  Cool completely before cutting.

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Blogger Emily said...

Looks yummy! I had a question about using agave nectar. How do I use it when substituting for sugar? What is the ratio?

March 1, 2010 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Tracy Hayhurst said...

Thanks! I've been daydreaming of homemade granola bars. These look great.

March 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Cathrine said...

Thanks for the Granola bars, been looking for a recipe recently, for a healthy snack for the kids.
I so agree about the "making excuses" - I'm notorious for it. Don't even know why, as I'm generally a good cook - think it is just habit. From now on I will make no excuses and take the credit where it is due.

March 1, 2010 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

This is one thing my kids have been missing since I've stopped buying any processed food. They'll be so happy I have a recipe now! Thank you!

March 1, 2010 at 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

I'm terrible about apologizing for food or just over-explaining, and I have been making an effort not to do it.

I love granola on yogurt, so I haven't tried making granola bars yet. The base is close to my recipe, so maybe I will give them a shot soon!

March 1, 2010 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Katy said...

I've convinced myself that, like you mention, I simply "verbally prepare" my guests for the food. Not apologizing. But of course, it's the same thing, thinly veiled.

It sets up a vicious cycle. I don't want others to apologize for the food they serve to me (even boxed mac and cheese) -- but when I do the same, what do I expect?

I am, however, also infamous for announcing that what I'm serving is utterly incredible (this usually to closer friends) -- hmmm... wonder what the etiquette is on that? ; )

March 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

I love that book, and that quote stuck with me when I read it last year. Now it appears everywhere and I'm so glad. I wish people would just serve their food without disclaimers, without stress or worry that it isn't perfect. There is no need for perfection in cooking when there are so many variables involved. The best part is the faces around the table.

And that recipe looks wonderful, by the way!

March 2, 2010 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger shanna said...

OK, a: I love granola bars. love them, love them. b: I soooo understand about the apologizing and had someone give me that same Julia Child quote, which I think is excellent. Here's to celebrating time in the kitchen and whole cooking and, well, life!

March 2, 2010 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Emily: I don't use agave nectar much anymore, so I'm not quite sure as to the exact ratios. Here is the article/study that turned me away from agave (in case you're interested):

I was pretty bummed to read that article b/c I love how neutral agave nectar is! The only time I use it now is when we make margaritas or other mixed drinks. i made simple syrup with sucanat/rapadura and it tasted fine, but who wants to drink a brown margarita? haha...

March 2, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I think I would like all of these things without any sweetener... do you think it would "hold" together with less of the sweet stuff?

March 2, 2010 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Kristen: I actually tried this recipe with less maple syrup and they didn't hold together well. If you'd rather make granola, then you could use 1/4 less maple syrup and just crumble the mixture after it's baked.

March 3, 2010 at 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Great quote thank you! I had not posted in a few weeks and I was going to start my most recent one with an apology and then I thought, What am I apologizing for?

I love this recipe and can't wait to try. I have been wanting to make homemade granola bars for a long time and this seems like a perfect recipe.

March 4, 2010 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 10, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi, I found you thru Real Food Weds & so happy to see a soaked granola bar recipe- my question is: the beautiful pictures you have here is that the soaked version or non? And you use fresh apricots? Thanks & I look forward to more! :)
(I deleted my other comment because I said, "I look forward to more nourishing posts" which I realized could sound like I was saying your posts weren't nourishing enough! oops!)

March 11, 2010 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Hi Lisa: The pictures are of the soaked bars, even though I tested both versions before posting. I post 2 versions b/c I realize that not everyone is ready for soaking yet, so I like to have the option. I used dried apricots...purely for the pictures I used regular org. apricots b/c the ones without sulpher wouldn't have been very pretty! I'm glad you found the blog. I hope it's helpful!

March 11, 2010 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Hi! I am friends with your cousin Allison in VA and she recommended me your food blog. My 16 month old LOVES cereal/granola bars and she's eating me out of food budget and I am trying to get more and more away from processed food. Since she shouldn't have nuts till 2-3ish, what could I substitute for the almonds (I think) that are in the recipe? Thanks!

March 26, 2010 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Christina: Since your daughter can't have nuts I would replace them with 1/2 cup additional coconut and 1/2 cup additional oats. Hope that helps!

March 29, 2010 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Gillian said...

Hi Carrie: the granola bars are delicious but mine didn't hold together. Is it because I omitted the sugar? Or are there different types of rolled oats (I used old-fashioned)?
Thanks :)

September 6, 2010 at 7:04 AM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Gillian: If you omitted the whole cane sugar than that's probably why they didn't hold. If you don't want to use the sugar than next time I would increase the maple syrup to 1 cup. That should give it the sticky-factor. :)

September 6, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

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