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Granola bars of Goodness

One thing you notice while living in Europe is butter.  They don’t add colorings (yeah) and the “bars” of butter are more square.  Even if you buy a set (or two or three) of china, the butter dish that comes with the set is square to fit the butter!  Every time we visit British Columbia, Canada we “just happen” to meander into several different bakeries.  I tell you, almost all their granola bars are square.  No really, I sort of like them that way.  I think just because it is different.  No real reason.  However, today’s granola bars are brought to you by the shape, rectangle.

Twenty five years ago, I shared recipes with everyone who even mentioned it.  I got a 3X5 card out and wrote it out long hand, never to hear from the people again.  I will tell you a little trick, now a days, I have to be asked a couple of times before I think the people are really interested, not just being polite.  The time has come, you see, several people have asked me for this recipe, several times.  I give.  Yep, I will share.

Before I begin, part of the charm is that they are individually wrapped.  Yes, every single time.  I make sure the tops of the bars are visible and the plastic wrap is secured in the back.  Then I put them in a freezer zip bag for storage.  You can either store them in the freezer or the refrigerator, both work well.  Then you can just grab one on your way out the door.  Part of the draw to really healthy cooking is having items prepared ahead of time and the visual appeal.  No one, I mean not a vegan or a vegetarian or a teenager or a meat loving boyfriend wants to eat a dried out, beige, boring, ill packaged goofy granola bar.  Sure it takes a bit of time to prepare the bars.  Just as it takes a teeny bit of time to garnish your left over plates and pans in your refrigerator, the payoffs are huge.  Everyone wants to choose something that looks good as well as is just as good tasting.   It’s a no brainer.  Presentation, people, presentation!!!!!

Extra chewy granola bars.  You can make them your “own” by picking different ingredients to add in.  Try combinations of chocolate or carob chips, sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped dried fruits, nuts ……. you get the idea.  I like to save a few for the top of the bars.  I press some pumpkin seeds or chopped almonds into the top prior to baking, sure adds some visual appeal.

Here we go:

Get a large bowl and a heavy-duty wooden spoon (I use my favorite kitchen tool from King Arthur Flour, the heavy-duty whisk from Poland, LOVE)

Pre-heat oven to 325* and lightly grease one 9 X 13″ pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

4 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2/3 cup Earth Balance, vegan (or butter works well), 1/2 cup raw honey, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 cup coconut, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds ,.  You can stir in up to 2 cups of assorted raisins, dried cranberries, nuts etc.

Before I continue here is this author and baker’s personal opinion…………..sometimes I find organic oats, sometimes I don’t,  sometimes whole wheat flour sometimes, plain old white,   I always, always use raw honey, sometimes I use butter, never margarine, sometimes all I have is sweetened coconut…………………..you get the idea, it is a very versatile recipe.

Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 325* for 18-22 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes THEN cut into bars.  I cut down the center first, the long way then cut into individual bars.  Let the bars cool completely in the pan before removing or serving.  Let cool completely prior to wrapping in plastic wrap.  I usually get 14-16 bars per recipe, depends on how skinny you cut the bars.

Say Grace and dig in!

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