Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Granola Bars (Recipe Included)

I had a Valentine's day party to go to last week with our friends.  I did not really feel like making anything but realized that I had all the ingredients for homemade granola bars.  I had been wanting to try this recipe for years now.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Recently when I have gone to the store in search of snacks for my kids, I am often disappointed in the variety of granola bars.  I have found some good ones in the past for my kids but have not seen them recently.  Most of the granola bars geared for kids have high fructose corn syrup and/or hydrogenated oil.  No thank you!  Most of the healthier ones have big, huge chunks of almonds or peanuts that I am afraid my little one couldn't handle.  It dawned on me last time while searching through this constantly disappointing aisle that I had been given a recipe by a dear, old friend of mine years ago.  She had always made them for her grandchildren, and they LOVED them.  The great thing about this recipe is that you could tweak them to your liking.  I used, of course, oats and crisp rice cereal as a base.  I included in mine coconut, peanuts that had been chopped very finely, a very small amount of chocolate chips, and lots of raisins.  Marshmallows and peanut butter were the binders.  Next time I make them, I may decide to change it up a bit, maybe using white chocolate and craisins.  My kids loved them, and I felt that they were much healthier than the ones you buy at the store.  Plus, they were super easy to make!

A great tip in cutting down on sugar content in your baked goods that include peanut butter is by using natural peanut butter.  There is a lot of added sugar in regular peanut butter, and I have found that it really doesn't make much of a difference in the resulting product.  In fact, if anything, I have found that it enhances the product because it lends more of a natural, peanutty flavor.

Granola Bars
2 1/2 c quick oats
2 c crisp rice cereal
1/4 c coconut
1 1/2 c raisins
1 c peanuts, chopped
1/4-1/2 c chips (whichever flavor you like or have on hand)
1/2 c butter
1/2 c peanut butter
1- 10 oz pkg marshmallows

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Melt butter, blend in peanut butter until smooth.  Add marshmallows and stir until melted.  Fold into dry ingredients.  Press into buttered 9x13 pan.  Score, cool, cut.