Make it From Scratch: School-Friendly Granola Bars
As some of you are aware, my younger son, who has previously been homeschooled, decided to go to public school this year. This has brought about a number of changes for our family, not the least of which is that I have to pack a nut-free lunch for him five days a week.
Granola bars are standard fare for school lunches and since you know I'm way too cheap to buy premade ones (plus most of the store bought ones are full of questionable ingredients) I've been on a quest for a good homemade granola bar recipe that: a) only uses staple items from my pantry and b) doesn't contain peanut butter, which happens to be an ingredient in the majority of recipes I think look most promising! Yes, I could sub in some sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter, but I'd rather save it for making sandwiches on days when I don't have any other options handy.
After a little experimenting, I've come up with these bars, which are good and oaty, and have a satisfying texture (a bit chewy with a hint of crunchiness on top). You can easily change out the dried fruits and seeds to create a variety of flavour combos.
3-6 tbsp of brown sugar (adjust depending on your desired level of sweetness)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats (I use old fashioned, but quick oats would probably work fine)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp ginger (I prefer it with the higher amount, but I'm a ginger addict!)
In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey and butter over medium-low heat, until butter melts and mixture is thoroughly blended together. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, raisins, coconut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and ginger.Pour honey-butter mixture over top and stir until oat mixture is thoroughly coated.
Press firmly into a greased 9" x 9" pan (I put a bit of butter on my fingers to do this so the mixture doesn't stick to me!) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before cutting into bars. Makes 12 granola bars (I cut them into 6 pieces in one direction and in half the other direction to get a proper "long and skinny" granola bar shape).