Once More, With Granola

We’re coming up on a long weekend.  Our school system has been generous, giving the children not only President’s Day, but the Friday prior as well.  Four whole days in a row, and we’re taking advantage of it by going on a little road trip.

Most of you probably know that traveling with children can be tricky.  Some kids are great – strap them in a booster seat, give them a book, some crayons and paper, or a movie, and they’re good to go (that’s my oldest).  Some kids, on the other hand, require a little more, shall we say, attention.  They get wiggly, antsy, bored, and, last but not least, impatient.  This can manifest itself in many ways.  In our case, our youngest expresses his displeasure by yelling, throwing toys and kicking the back of the seat in front of him.  Also, he’s not much of a car sleeper, so this behavior can go on indefinitely.  Pleasant.

Sometimes, snacks help.  Actually, most of the time, snacks help.  If he has food, he’s pretty happy.  That’s why I spent most of this morning attempting, once again, to make granola bars.

I say attempting, because I’ve tried and failed with granola bars many times.  This time around was a semi-success, which is good because we’re leaving tomorrow and I don’t have time to try, try and try again.

I wanted these to be relatively nourishing, since they will be our primary snack of choice over the long weekend.  Whole grains in the form of rolled oats and freshly ground flour, combined with unsweetened dried cherries, a very ripe banana, some raw Tupelo honey (courtesy Savannah Bee Company) and sucanat (dehydrated sugar cane), along with a relatively small amount of expeller-pressed coconut oil and some toasted cacao nibs come together to create a nutritionally-dense granola bar.

Also?  Tasty.

Banana Split Granola Bars
prep time: 10 minutes
bake time: 40 minutes
yield: 12 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil
  • 1 very ripe banana, pureed
  • 2 cups dried cherries
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.  Line it with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the oats, flour, salt, soda and cacao nibs in a large bowl.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, coconut oil, sucanat, banana puree, and dried cherries.  Cook for a couple of minutes, until coconut oil has melted and sucanat has dissolved.  The cherries should also plump slightly.
  4. Remove from heat and add the vanilla to the liquid ingredients.
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  6. Press the granola mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 300F for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  8. Once cooled, remove from the pan and slice into 12 bars.
  9. Enjoy!

These weren’t perfect – they still managed to fall apart somewhat when I went to slice them.  However, the flavor is really good, and the texture is nice and chewy.  The cherries, cacao nibs and bananas combine to give a flavor profile reminiscent of a banana split – sweet, tart, chocolatey – without being dessert-like.  I think they would be especially good with a cup or so of chopped nuts thrown in (I left them out because my husband might decide to try them, and he’s allergic), and maybe a touch more fat in the form of butter, peanut-butter, or just more coconut oil (I think the fat helps to bind them at room temperature).

I think these, along with some popcorn and sliced fruit, will go a long way toward taming the beast-like child on our road trip tomorrow.  Which will go an even further way toward maintaining my sanity.  And that’s a good thing.

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Categories: baking, real food

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9 Comments on “Once More, With Granola”

  1. 16 February 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Looks yummy! I think your suggestion of peanut butter at the end sounded delish…

    Question, though, cost-wise, how much would you say this treat cost per bar? I know you tend to have most of the ingredients on-hand, but I’m trying to figure out how to start buying better. Without a Whole Foods or Trader Joes anywhere NEAR me, I’m forced to spend way to much in the “Organic” Sections of our local chain stores – that I truly believe just jack up the price to make you think you’re getting something special…

    BTW – I MISS YOU!

    • 16 February 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      It would be hard to estimate, given the fact that I buy so much in bulk, and since I dried the cherries this summer when I bought 25 lbs. of them at the farmers market. You could do a similar version very inexpensively, though, using raisins in place of the cherries, omitting the cacao nibs, and using butter in place of the coconut oil. The rolled oats and flour are very inexpensive – I think I paid a couple of dollars for the oats (for over 2 lbs, of which I only used three cups), and the flour can cost as little as $3 for 5 lbs (and you only us 1/4 cup in this recipe). Raw honey can be a little more expensive, but it’s worth it to know that it comes from a reputable source. You might pay $4 or $5 for a small container of locally sourced raw honey.

      I order my coconut oil online from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Nutiva-Organic-Virgin-Coconut-15-Ounce/dp/B001EO5Q64/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1329429188&sr=8-2), but you can also get it at Your Dekalb Farmers Market – which is not that far from you. They are also a good source for inexpensive dried fruits, nuts, and grains. Even if you only went once a month (make it a field trip with B10), you could stock up on the things you need. I don’t shop much at Trader Joes, and I only go to WF for certain things that I can’t find elsewhere. I actually buy quite a bit at my regular grocery store, using coupons and in-store sales.

      I know that doesn’t answer the question of cost per-piece. If I had to guess, I’d estimate that the whole recipe cost about $5 or $6 total, so that would be $.50 a piece for the bars. That could be way off, but I don’t think so.

  2. 16 February 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Looks so good!

  3. 16 February 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean about packing snacks for trips!! I don’t think we’d survive without packing plenty of food anytime we go anywhere :D These look delicious. I have everything on hand and have been craving granola bars so I think I need to try them. And I love that you called them “Banana Split” granola bars. They sound great! I hope you have a great trip!

  4. 17 February 2012 at 9:37 am #

    My kid is already grown up and is almost at the age she can have her own kids in return. These granola will be perfect for a healthy start up by having it with breakfast, that look simply gorgeous.

  5. 19 February 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Sounds like a great strategy! :) The granola bars look fantastic, and I am sure your trip will be a great one!

  6. 20 February 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Packing snacks doesn’t end as they grow either. My 15 yo is in constant demand.

  7. 21 February 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Sorry about the youngest’s behavior in the car–I’m sure it will get better, particularly if you keep providing this sort of snack! I don’t care if they fall apart or not, these are good-looking granola bars.

  8. 8 April 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! I nominated you today for the Versatile Blogger Award. Check out my post for the details. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

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