Saturday, August 25, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

Did you know school is starting Monday?  I was blissfully unaware of just how close the approaching school year was until last week.  Maybe it's because all I could think of was a certain lemonade stand birthday party, who knows.  I didn't realize how quickly Gannon's time as a preschooler was diminishing, or how unprepared I am for school to start!

He is ready, okay who am I kidding, he is more than ready to start school.  As happy as I am that he is excited and really going to love it, part of me just wants to keep him home a little longer.  Why do they have to grow up so fast??

This weekend, I have been racking my brain to find suitable lunches and snacks to send with him to school.  Add to the fact that he is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, their school district is peanut free.  This obviously means no peanuts, peanut butter, etc.  But it also means nothing that was processed on equipment that may have come into contact with peanuts or any other tree nuts.  Not so easy.  That eliminates his favorite lunch, peanut butter and jelly, and two of his favorite snacks, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip granola bars.  I've got to get creative.

I found this recipe on Pinterest for homemade granola bars, so I thought I would give them a world.  I made a couple of changes based on what I had on hand in the pantry.  This is what we got.

These were so easy to make, and they didn't take long either!  The recipe makes 24 bars, and they freeze well.  I plan to just take one out in the morning before school and toss it into his lunch box.  That way, it's ready at lunch time, and I only have to make them once a month....if I don't sneak into the freezer while he's at school ;)
So here's what you need:
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ (I didn't have any, and they came out fine, however, it's on the list for next time)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped (I didn't have cherries, so I used raisins)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I only had semi-sweet morsels)
3/4 cup slivered almonds (obviously, I had to omit this)
And here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a square baking dish with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.
Mix well using your hands, add in raisins (or other dried fruit), and chocolate chips (and almonds, if you're using them). Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges. Cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes before cutting. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting or they will crumble.  I used a pizza cutter, and it worked great!

Store the bars in an air tight container, or freeze.

The moment of truth:

 We have a winner!!

And there you have it!  Homemade chocolate chip raisin granola bars :)

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