Granola bars with honey and raisins

Around this time of the year three things happen: days get dramatically shorter, I turn one year older, and I tend to disappear from this blog. There is little I can do about the first two, but I see that even the third issue is starting to become a pattern. My excuse last year was that I had been newly hired and the first month at my new job had been beyond busy. One year from then, it seems that at the end of October things start to get crazy busy again at work. It must be connected with the sudden lack of sunlight (or with myself getting older).

I feel bad about disappearing. I didn’t even have the time to take proper pictures of my birthday cupcakes (I will have to bake them again if I want to feature them here, but the question is: when?) and that is something I had really wanted to do. Unfortunately, the fact that we are starting to get less and less sunlight doesn’t make this any easier. Over the next few months I will have to plan well if I want to shoot something for the blog taking advantage of natural light. But I didn’t start this post only to complain. This post is about delicious home-made granola bars.

granola-bars-4Among the perks of my job as a Home Economics teacher there is the fact that a decent percentage of my lesson planning involves reading recipe websites in order to find the perfect ones for my students. While planning a healthy eating unit I decided that granola bars could be an interesting thing to make as a healthier alternative to a regular dessert. The problem with most recipes I was finding was that they involved nuts or even peanut butter, totally banned from our school. So I kept searching and searching until I had read enough to come up with my own allergy-free granola bar recipe. My students loved it.

Granola bars recipe

  • 50 g corn flakes
  • 80 g rolled oats
  • 30 g raisins
  • 30 g pumpkin seeds
  • 20 g chia seeds
  • 1 dl liquid honey (about 160 g)

Add the corn flakes to a bowl and gently crush them to reduce their size. Then, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix them together. Pour in the honey and stir, in order to homogeneously blend it in and make a sticky mixture. Line a baking pan with a sheet of baking paper. I used a rectangular metal cake pan, but a glass casserole dish will work equally fine (that is actually what we used at school!). Pour the mixture into the baking pan trying to distribute it all over the surface, then cover the mixture with another sheet of baking paper and press it down using the bottom of a glass. The goal is to get an even layer all the same height. You will only need this top sheet to help yourself pressing it, so remove it before putting the pan in the oven. Bake at 170°C for 15 minutes. When baked, remove from baking pan and let cool completely before cutting it into bars. The longer it sits to air dry, the easier it will be to portion.

healthy home-made granola barsTwo simple tricks will make you nail the perfect granola bars. For starters, you really need to press the sticky mixture well to the bottom of the baking pan. Roll a glass over it, or press it with the bottom of a glass – the harder the better. Since the mixture is trapped between two sheets of parchment paper this should be an easy enough job to do. The other trick is to let it sit to air dry for at least a couple of hours once baked. It is possible to cut it as soon as it reaches room temperature, but it might still be a little soft. Let it dry, it will get structure. This was probably the biggest problem at school: since we only had the time of the lesson we were portioning it when it had not yet properly dried, resulting in crumbly bits rather than proper bars. Still delicious, of course – the taste was not affected.

granola-bars-3I have made more at home now, and I have even wrapped some of them in baking paper so my boyfriend can take them to work next week. These bars are very sweet, given the amount of honey they contain. Which is needed, since honey is the actual “glue” in them. Despite that, the rest is pretty healthy – they provide you with a lot of fiber, as well as iron and healthy fat from the pumpkin seeds. Definitely a healthier bite than the average dessert.

granola-bars-2I have tried this recipe substituting honey with syrup to make them vegan. There is a slight change in taste, as syrup is more neutral and does not overwhelm the rest of the flavours. But I’m a huge honey lover, so I like them better with this strong honey taste.

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