Monday, February 8, 2010

GF CF Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I gave up trying to find affordable granola bars without corn syrup. Sometimes I would find gluten free bars, and sometimes even gluten free and dairy free... but - the CO$T was a bit staggering, for me - especially considering how much an 8 year old boy can eat!

So, we now make our own. I have 2 different recipes, but - this sweet, crunchy one is our preferred granola bar these days.

Don't they look yummy? Ok - you have to get over the fact that these do NOT have frosting. Your heart and butt will thank you later...

Yup - they're peanut butter and chocolate, but you can substitute ANY nut butter.

The girl even likes then when they're warm! Mmm...

This one is mine!

It took a couple of attempts... but - we succeeded and now have this very yummy granola bar recipe that we make almost weekly. Best part if that it is gluten free, casein free and corn free and not too expensive to make at all. I would also call it "forgiving", meaning that it's pretty adjustable/tweak-able" too. Plus -- it makes a wonderful aroma coming out of the oven and the house will smell great.

I think the idea is to cut them in long rectangular bar shapes, but - we don't. We cut them as if they were brownies, but - any shape will do. They're granola bars, for goodness sakes and they don't last long...

There's basically 2 parts: the dry base and the goo base. Easy enough, right?

We never use the same exact ingredients in our dry base mixture, but - have found that the following seem to please our palette:

Flax seeds
Raw almonds
Raw cashews
Raw sunflower seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds
GF CF chocolate chips
Organic dried cranberries
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal
Gluten free cereal - we used Arrowhead Mills Maple Buckwheat Flakes

If you've never made granola before, you must know that it makes all the difference in a nummy, nutty toasted crunch flavor if you lightly toast your nuts, seeds and oatmeal before using in the recipe. It's about as easy as it gets too... just place your dry base without the cereal on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 6-8 minutes at 400F, or until you see the oats turning light golden brown.

While the dry base is in the oven, we make the "goo". It times out perfect and this recipe is quick to make, bake and clean up. Win - win, win!

If we have these little morsels in the pantry, we add these over the top, just before placing in the oven.

The recipe goes like this:

1. Using Spectrum Shortening, grease 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish very well.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚.

3. In a saucepan, on the stove - over medium heat, combine: 1/2 cup GF brown rice syrup OR raw honey and 1/4 cup brown sugar

4. Stir until sugar is dissolved and it begins to bubble, about 5-8 minutes, depending on how hot your medium is... Then stir in: 1/2 teaspoon or up to 1 teaspoon glycerin based GF vanilla.

5. Turn heat off and stir in: 1/2 cup Better N Peanut Butter (more stirring)

6. After it's stirred well, pour it over the dry base (still warm), which should total 4 to 4 1/2 cups. Stir to cover and coat all the warm oats, nuts and seeds, fruit - then "pour" into that baking dish.

7. "Spread" as well as you can - it will be a bit sticky and "press" down in to the bottom of the pan, even if it seems like it should be more condensed or stuck-down, it' s ok. Do your best and try to press the granola together without crushing it to crumbs. Every time we make these, we think that they're not pressed enough, but - they always are. Bonus! Easy-peasy... If you use chocolate chips, sprinkle them on top now, before baking.

8. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

Let them sit out and cool down a bit before cutting, but - not too long. Most recipes will tell you to let them cool completely before cutting. I have no idea why! It's like chiseling a tree if you let them cool. Then you end up with granola, not bars. Cut them while they are still warm - ok? They come out of the pan very nice while warm!

Nicolas says he likes the brown rice syrup much better than raw honey, but - we have made these with raw honey too.

I happen to be out of raw honey because we use it all the time, and have cut way back on using Agave Nectar, thus we use a lot of raw honey. There's a little natural food store about an hour from here I really want to go shop at!! They have a natural meats farm and I'd love to grab a couple of roasts! Oh, and jam without corn syrup... and soaps without chemicals... and lots of cool stuff! Yes, I do make my own, but - it's winter... and I am tired. Winter lasts so long... Maybe I will try to get there later in the week and blog about it... I love the products I have bought from them at trade shows. We'll see. There's 8 - 10 inches of snow forecast for tonight and tomorrow... ain't gonna be any road trips for raw honey happening!

Back to the bars...

I'd like to try them with blueberries sometime... pistachios and maybe pecans. Walnuts left a "bitter-ish" flavor in the bars when I tried using them a couple weeks ago... so I would suggest a different nut, unless you are a sold-out walnut lover!

Speaking of nuts, I have a new carrot muffin recipe I am trying tomorrow. I'll let you know if they turn out. Ok?

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