Here in the Metro Atlanta area, school begins in August, and it is staggered by county. Meaning that depending on which county you live in, your children have been in school now for either a week, or two depending.
So, after having a conversation with a young nursing student at school the other day, about the store brought Granola Bar she had in her hand, I decided to share one from my favorite cookbook author at the moment, Ina Garten, from her “Back to Basic’s” cookbook. My theory is and will remain, that when you make it yourself, you know exactly what is in it and can thereby control the amount of sugar, salt and artificial stuff that goes into what you’re eating. For this granola, you’ll find the ingredients at your local Kroger, Publix, Ingles or Walmart:
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup wheat germ ( I personally omit this)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar,lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup pitted dates ( I personally omit these)
1/2 cup dried apricots (I personally omit these)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or craisins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×12 inch baking dish and line with parchment paper or quick release foil.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds and coconut together on a sheet pan, and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots and cranberries and stir well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers with water and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2-3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Now the beauty of making your own granola is that you’re making it to your taste, not mass produced for a bunch of folks you don’t know. So, for me, I’d omit some of the sugar because coconut is pretty sweet on its own. I might even use salted almonds, because sometimes you want some salty with your sweet. Now while I love dark chocolate, I would not add chocolate chips to my granola bars, but you’re making these for you, so add what you like, experiment a little and let me know how they come out!
These are a great anytime snack, they pack up well and you can experiment with different types of nuts and dried fruits.
So Mom, or college student, check these out and let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you!