Snacks are a wonderful, very necessary, slightly indulgent part of everyday life. They are the food-world version of naps – and everyone knows how much naps rock. Couch naps. Sunday morning naps. Post-thanksgiving dinner naps. Naps by the fire. Naked naps. Naps in the sunny reading nook on summer afternoons. And then there’s the snacks: Cookies. Pretzels. Graham crackers with brown sugar and butter (a Morris household specialty). Bananas with peanut butter. Hummus. Chips and salsa. Peach-mango smoothies. You get the picture.
Both naps and snacks come in an incredible variety of types, each with its own benefits, shortcomings, and times at which it is appropriate to partake in them. For example, you wouldn’t take a couch nap on a Sunday morning, and you wouldn’t reach for the hummus when that daily afternoon very intense chocolate craving kicks in (does that happen to other people??). Similarly, you wouldn’t eat cookies before a big exam, you would eat something fibrous and brain-empowering, like granola bars. Which brings us to today’s recipe for granola bars that possess a much stronger nutritional profile than your average, over-priced, but very convenient store bought granola bar.
Homemade granola bars have been on my “to make” list for a very long time, but I haven’t gotten around to it because I had kind of assumed they would be sort of time consuming. False. These literally took seven minutes to mix together. Seven. There are very few days when I don’t have seven minutes to bake. Plus, they were much much better than I was expecting them to be. For an egg-less, butter-less, oil-less, sugar-less baked good packed with flax and oats (and OK, a fair number of butterscotch chips too), they were so good. Even though I sent the majority of them to this lucky guy I know who is very poor and happened to tell me that some days he doesn’t eat until 3 because he doesn’t get a break for lunch and never has anything to pack because the only things in their fridge are sausage, mushrooms, and Sweet Baby Ray’s … I probably consumed about 1/4 of the batch just by picking at the odds and ends during the photo shoot. And then pondered why I wasn’t hungry after not eating breakfast. Granola bars are breakfast, Katie. Despite popular belief, eating three halves of something does not mean you didn’t eat any of it; it means you had one and a half of them. This is probably shocking news to Steph, the queen of “I’ll just have half.” Anyway. They’re really good, really easy, and really pretty healthy too. Plus you can pretty much put whatever you want in them in terms of mix-ins. A great find. One warning: if you’re expecting the crunchy snap of a Nature granola bar, these might disappoint – they are decidedly chewy. It seems as though most of the recipes I’ve found use the same base recipe, but if I find a recipe for a truly crunchy bar, I will definitely share. In the meantime, enjoy these as an appropriate pre-exam snack. Or maybe even a pre-nap snack. Live large.
P.S. Thank you to everyone for your support in the Ridiculously Delicious Challenge! I will be moving on to round 3 – more soon.
Butterscotch, Peanut Butter, and Pretzel Granola Bars
Adapted from Cherries and Chocolate. Makes 12 granola bars.
- 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
- 2 TBS agave nectar
- 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
- 1 1/3 c. old fashioned oats
- 2/3 c. high fiber, small, crunchy cereal (bran buds, flax bites, puffed rice, etc.)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2/3 c. butterscotch chips
- 1/4 c. broken pretzel pieces
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Combine applesauce, peanut butter, and agave nectar, mixing until evenly textured. Fold in oats, cereal, salt, chips, and pretzel pieces. Spoon batter into pan and smooth into an even layer with back of spoon.
- Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5 mintues. Then remove from pan by lifting edges of parchment paper. Allow to cool completely (mine were best after letting them set overnight) before cutting, or they will fall apart.