As you may know if you follow my blog, I am a big fan of oatmeal and granola. I love the taste and texture of grains and when they are paired with dried fruit and nuts, there is rarely a combination I don't like. It's great for breakfast, lunch and mid-day snacking. The only drawback is that it's difficult to eat granola and oatmeal on the run. We all have busy schedules and so many times, when we are in a hurry, we grab processed bars and call them a meal. Recently I found a recipe for healthy granola bars on Martha Stewart. They seemed simple to make and the bars looked delicious so I tried them. I love how they turned out and will definitely make them again. There are no artificial ingredients in these bars so you can feel good eating them. You can also tailor them to your taste by substituting ingredients. Try using different fruits and nuts or simply omit the flax or oat bran if you are sensitive to it and add more oatmeal. Be creative and make them your own.
Dried fruit, nuts and grains are the main ingredients in these granola bars. Cinnamon, salt and honey are also added keeping them simple and healthy. I want to point something out here. When you look at the ingredient list on the recipe, you will notice two forms of measurement, cups and weights. I found that very helpful when I was shopping. I bought my ingredients in the bulk food section at Wegman's and purchased the exact weight I needed. It was less expensive than buying a whole bag of each item.
- 1 cup (9 ounces) pitted dates
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, finely ground, or 1 cup quinoa flakes
- 1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) pecans,toasted, 1/2 finely ground, 1/2 coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted, 1/2 finely ground, 1/2 coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) dried papaya, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/3 cup (1 3/4 ounces) dried cherries, chopped
- 1/3 cup (2 ounces) dried blueberries
- 2 tablespoons oat bran
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons brown-rice syrup or honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Place dates in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a simmer. Drain. Puree in food processor until smooth.
- Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
- Mix oats or quinoa, nuts, papaya, cherries, blueberries, bran, flaxseed, wheat germ, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Mix in date puree and brown-rice syrup or honey.
- Press mixture into pan.
- Bake until center is firm and edges are golden, about 25 minutes.
- Let cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Cut into 8 bars.