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Did you know there are a total of 46 ingredients in a Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bar?

Here goes:  High fructose corn syrup, sugar, strawberries, corn syrup, fructose, glycerin, water, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, citric acid, sodium alginate, natural and artificial strawberry flavor, caramel color, calcium phosphate, xantham gum, malic acid, sodium citrate, modified cellulose, red #40, enriched wheat flour, whole oats, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup, honey, calcium carbonate, dextrose, nonfat dry milk, wheat bran, salt, cellulose gum, potassium bicarbonate, natural and artificial vanilla flavor, soy lecithin, wheat gluten, corn starch, niacinamide, carrageenan, guar gum, zinc oxide, reduced iron, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin A palitate, thiamin hydrochloride, and folic acid.

That’s nearly twice as many ingredients found in my shampoo.  Eeeks. Not to mention, each bar has a shelf-life that, I imagine, could easily outlast our entire civilization.  Other brands may try to tout less ingredients, but produce an equally scary attribute, emerging as hard as cement.  I’ve cracked a back molar or two taking a bite outta those little suckers.  It’s no wonder my dentist insists on packing a granola bar within each goodie bag I receive twice a year from him.  And here I thought he was just being nice.  There needs to be a better option.  There must be a better option.  And luckily, there IS a better option!

Serendipitously, I had a nice full batch of my favorite homemade granola which I made two days ago.  Next, I eyed what was left of my peanut butter wonder and immediately saw this better option come to life right before me.  Homemade Granola Bars. I was able to make my own granola bars in less time than it would have taken me to get in the car, drive to the market, shop, wait in line, check-out, drive back home and unpack.  How can you beat that?  Plus, homemade granola bars contain one essential main ingredient that can never, ever be found in factory produced ones … and that ingredient is, love.

Made with love, for my Tony.

(awh, shucks).

homemade granola bars

Homemade Granola Bars
Tweaked from Mark Bittman, NY Times Bitten

This is another very flexible recipe that you can adjust to your own likings.  Customizable granola bars – yes!

Music Pairing: Fleetwood Mac, Tell Me Lies

Ingredients

Method

Put the honey, peanut butter, and oil in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Put the granola in a large bowl and pour the sugar mixture over the top while mixing; stir until the granola is well coated.

Press into an 8- or 9-inch square pan and let cool in the fridge.  Cut into squares or rectangles and serve.  Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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It’s time to say goodbye to wintery bowls of steamy hot oatmeal.  The time has arrived for it’s lighter, more playful cousin to take the breakfast stage.  For many years now, I’ve thought that granola was a gimmick food.  How could something be considered so healthy, and good for you when it’s laden with sugar, additives and preservatives?  I’ve tried every brand out there – and still, no love.  In fact, I’m usually left with a somewhat unhealthy feeling.  Similar to that feeling you get when half a box of Sour Patch Kids are devoured at the cinema, even before the previews are through.  Really happy, then really tired.  Since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I was beginning to feel rather left out.

All of this changed the day I made my first batch of homemade granola.  Nutty, hearty, sweet (but not overly sweet), tangy and filled with nutrition. Fully customizable to fit your heart’s desire.  Everything comes together in one big bowl.  Then laid to bake on one big sheet pan.  This recipe could not be easier and the results could not be more amazing.  If I ever run my own B&B, this would be part of the breakfast menu.  I love buying all the dry ingredients in the bulk section of the market – you can buy as much or as little as you need, plus it’s much more economical and less wasteful (no packaging).  Serve with plain yogurt and fresh fruit, or just milk.

best homemade granola

BEST HOMEMADE GRANOLA
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, yields 7-8 cups

Now that you have a delicious batch of homemade granola, go try out some homemade granola bars!

Music Pairing: Chiquitita, ABBA (come on, just admit it, you know you love ABBA)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup veggie or olive oil (or 1/3 cup applesauce)
  • 1/3 cup good honey
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, or favorite dried chopped fruit

Method

Heat oven to 350º.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, nuts, flax seeds, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Whisk the oil, honey, and apple juice in measuring cup.

Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated.  Spread onto a large sheet pan.  Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, around 30-40 minutes, depending on oven.

Remove granola from the oven and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally.  Add cranberries.  Store cooled granola in an airtight container.

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