I don't mean to brag, but my youngest son is a bit of a health nut. He refuses to eat anything with HFCS and will choose to have fruit as a snack before candy. He likes it when I put raw carrots and nuts in his lunch. He will order broccoli instead of fries every time we eat out at a restaurant. That's how he rolls....
So in order to keep my youngest happy, I've been on the search for a really good crunchy granola bar recipe. I've yet to find one, but I did stumble across this recipe for granola bars, and found that the secret to crispy vs. crunchy (at least with this particular recipe) lies in how long you cook the honey/coconut oil mixture before mixing with the oats. I changed up quite a few ingredients to adapt this recipe to my taste...but it really is a pretty good recipe...and the bars come out looking like bars, and keep their shape nicely. No, they aren't really crunchy...but almost. I think if you want to experiment and cook the honey mixture even longer than I do, you might get even more crunch. But this is a nice middle ground. Soft enough to cut easily, yet a bit of a crunch to them when you bite.
And they are healthy....
Healthy enough for my son. Which is a good thing!
I've made mine with pecans and dried blueberries...but the combos you can make are endless really. You can sub out any nut or dried fruit you desire! (you could even guild the lily with some mini chocolate chips!)
Make sure you follow the instructions...there is lots of room for error in these. But...um...don't ask me how I know...
Crunchy/Chewy Granola Bars
Servings - 12 Serving Size - 1 bar Points Plus per Serving - 5 Points+
Calories - 183.4, Total Fat - 8.4g, Carb. - 27g, Protein - 3.2g, Fiber - 3.1g
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats (do not use quick cooking)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup raw sunflower kernels (seeds)
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/4 cup roughly chopped nuts of your choice (I used pecans)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup honey
2 TBS coconut oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt (you can omit, but it is nice to have it to balance the sweetness of the honey)
1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice (I used dried blueberries)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour oats onto a dry baking sheet and toast in oven for 10 - 12 minutes. Remove and set aside. Line an 11 x 7" pan ( brownie/biscuit pan) with parchment paper so the parchment extends over the side of the pan. Spray inside of pan, liberally with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, mix together the toasted oats, ground flax, sunflower kernels, coconut, nuts, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and dried fruit.
3. In small to med sized sauce pan, combine the honey and coconut oil. Cook over heat. When the mixture starts to bubble up, reduce heat to keep it gently bubbling. Let it bubble for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the mixture turns a golden color. ( it will start of pale and increase color as it bubbles) Basically, you are cooking this mixture to somewhere between hard ball and soft ball consistency...like when you make candy. If you go too far, you will get bars that are dry and very hard. If you don't go far enough, they will be soft and fall apart. This step is the KEY!
4. Remove honey mixture from heat and add in the vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Pour the honey mixture onto the oat mixture and fold in well, until everything is covered in the honey mixture.
5. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan, and press down HARD. As hard as you can (I use a cup sized measuring cup to press with). Put into a 350 degrees F oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes. Mixture will seem soft but will harden as it cools.
6. Remove the bars with the extended parchment and allow to cool completely. Cut into 12 bars.
I think I made 5 batches of this recipe, adjusting it each time, before I got it just to where I wanted it. I wanted to be able to still cut nice clean bars, so I didn't want it too crunchy. But I didn't want it too chewy either. I think I got it just right.
I was lucky to have an 11 x 7" pan in my cabinet. I've had one for a long time. I know it really isn't a standard size. You could use a smaller or bigger pan, but you may not be able to cut the recipe into nice bars. I thought about using two loaf pans...I think that might work too.
I know my son will be happy to have these bars in his lunch this week. They make a great, quick on the go breakfast too!
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