Thursday, March 14, 2013

granola bar round-up

I've made dozens of batches of granola bars in the last year and half. Why? Because they are one of the easiest ways to keep our lunch boxes frugal, but still tasty. Have you checked the prices of granola bars lately? No need to run to the store, I'll tell you...they are ridiculous! I simply am not willing to spend $2.50 (a sale price) for six tiny bars when I can make homemade bars for a fraction of the cost. Oh and added bonus I can control the fat and preservatives!

So, we've been on a mission to find our favorite granola bar recipe. Here's the results of our completely non-scientific granola bar study:

First prize winner: Eating Well's Energy Bars. The hubster loves that the bars taste and look healthy, but in a yummy, completely satisfying kind-of way. I love that this recipe serves as a great base for different nut and dried fruit add-ins. I always add craisins, dates, or raisins instead of dried blueberries. Why? Dried blueberries are a bit too pricey for our frugalish budget. Maybe someday we'll get a freeze drier and then we will dry our own fruit during it's peak season. Then I will make these bars with dried blueberries and let you know the results.

These bars actually hold their shape! Many other recipes we tried would not consistently stay together. These haven't failed me once! Note: I typically use 3 tbsp of corn syrup and 2 tbsp of honey instead of 5 tbsp of corn syrup called for in the recipe. I'd prefer to use only honey, but the corn syrup is important in the staying-together-and-not-crumbling-into-regular-granola process. I tell myself that at least I'm making an effort to eat semi-naturally... 
Tip: sometimes crumbs escape while the bars are being cut. These tasty, toasted morsels are wonderful on top of yogurt. Proof: my homemade yogurt is adorned with some leftover energy bar crumbs in these photos.

Runner-up: Microwave Chocolate Peanut butter & Oat Snack Bars. Easy, easy, easy! New to the granola bar scene? Start with these and throw in your favorite granola add-ins. Love chocolate and peanut butter mixed? Make these! 

Other options you might like to try:
1) No-Bake Brown Butter Quinoa Bars: yummy, but a bit too much work for me to make often
2) Playgroup Granola Bars: reminiscent of Nature Valley granola bars

Hope our study inspires you to get in the kitchen and whip up some wholesome snacks!

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