This week was our turn to host our playschool group and the theme was birds. Everything centered around birds, the songs, the crafts, stories, the games, and of course, the snack. I served pretzels as the twigs birds use to make their nests, julienned carrots and cucumber to be the worms birds pull from the ground, and made granola bars with seeds, nuts, and fruit, like little birdies like to eat. Both the kiddies and mommies loved this crunchy snack. Oh, excuse me, all of the kiddies except for my own, of course!
I thought it would be easy to find a healthy recipe for granola bars, but it actually proved to be rather difficult. I was hoping for a chewy bar, as some of the children who attend school are younger and do not have a full set of teeth, but every recipe that promised a chewy bar was FULL of sugar and butter. I guess that’s what makes the bars chewy. So when I found Alton Brown’s recipe, I knew it would not be the chewy bar I had envisioned, but seemed to be the one I could easily modify to make it pretty healthy. Besides, I have yet to try a recipe from Alton that I haven’t loved. Also from my extensive internet search, I realized that what seemed to be most important when trying to make granola bars was the ratio of wet to dry ingredients. Too many dry ingredients seem to make hard, crumbly granola. While too much of the wet ingredients made bars that were too sticky and fall apart. These bars, while not chewy, stayed together without being rock hard. Even the younger ones of the group were able to enjoy this birdie snack!
Birdie Granola Bars
*Adapted from AltonBrown’s Granola Bars
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons applesauce
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries (I used a tropical fruit blend with coconuts and also added some craisins to the mixture as well)
Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, and applesauce in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow cooling completely (at least 1-2 hours.) Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
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