Tag Archives: applesauce

Pumpkin Granola Bars Two Ways: Chewy and Crunchy


Fall is already well underway!  I can’t believe how fast Halloween is approaching.  We’ve been promoting our book, Hush Little Monster,  and doing book signings and readings.  It will continue into November.  For a list of appearances, click here.   We would love to see you if you are in the area during those times!
I was also featured on Kathy Temean’s Illustrator Saturday post over the weekend about my work and process.  Check it out here.
The coming of fall also brings…. pumpkin puree in the stores!

I thought it would be fun to develop a pumpkin recipe, and I was inspired to try making pumpkin granola bars.  I love Kashi’s because they are really crunchy and not too sweet.

I hadn’t known how hard it would be to come up with something that I would be satisfied with! The last couple of weeks have been devoted to this enterprise.  There have been “fails” along the way, but even these have tasted pretty good.  The problem has been getting it to be crunch-worthy and stick together!

Crunchy

I  initially based my ingredients on a peanut butter chewy granola bar that I will share soon in a future post.  I exchanged the peanut butter for pumpkin and applesauce, decreased the sugar, and used pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) instead of almonds. Unfortunately, this version of granola bar had rice cereal in it and became soggy immediately when it came in contact with the moisture of the pumpkin and applesauce!  I could hear the “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” as I was putting the pan in the oven…  FAIL!  It tasted good, but the texture was like mochi. 😦

In the second round of my quest for crunch, I omitted the rice cereal, upped the oats, and added egg white  thinking this would help the crispiness as in Anna’s Chunky Granola.   The result was a really good, tasty chewy version of pumpkin granola bars.  They are very much like an oatmeal bar cookie.  Jamie loves these and prefers them to the crunchy version.

Chewy with chocolate chips and dried cranberries!

Unsatisfied, I pushed onto a third round.  This time, I omitted the egg white, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries, thinking less chunky ingredients would help make them stay together better when cutting.  I also baked the mixture on a baking sheet in a thinner layer than the one in the baking pan.

The result was a crunchy, tasty granola bar! Finally!  There was some breakage — they are fragile– but the resulting granola is as delicious.  I mixed it with the dried cranberries and chips that I had omitted.  This granola is addicting.

I could eat this all day long.

As a side note, this granola — and their bar counterparts (I break them up) are heavenly with ice cream! Also, Jamie has come up with a novel recipe on his own which he says he will post on his blog, involving the chewy granola bars and cookie butter.   Trust me, it is wonderful.
I could go on experimenting — adding flax seeds, wheat germ, etc., but if I did, I’d end up eating batches more of granola and granola bars, and I wouldn’t be able to fit in my jeans, so I’ll stop for now!

Crunchy?

So there you have it.  Two pumpkin granola bars with similar flavors but different textures.  Which do you prefer?  Crunchy? Or chewy?

Chewy?

Chewy Pumpkin Granola Bars

2 cups oats

¼ cup pumpkin seeds (I used roasted, salted pepitas – they are smaller and have been removed from the shell)

¼ cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup applesauce

¼ cup honey

1 tablespoon oil (see note below)

1 egg white

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

¼ cup chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, toss oats and pepitas together.  Set aside.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, applesauce, oil, egg white, honey, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and brown sugar together.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated evenly. Add dried cranberries and chocolate chips and stir to combine.

4.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Really press down and pack it in as tightly as you can in an even layer.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, watching closely at the end.  Let pan cool on rack for about 5 minutes.  Run knife around edge, invert pan onto cutting board.  Cut sheet of granola in half, then into fifths, so you have ten bars.  Carefully transfer bars to rack and let cool completely.

Crunchy Pumpkin Granola Bars

2 cups oats

¼ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas – see above)

¼ cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup applesauce

¼ cup honey

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, toss oats and pepitas together.  Set aside.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, applesauce, oil, honey, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and brown sugar together.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated evenly.

4.  Pour mixture onto prepared sheet.  Shape into a square shape, and press down and pack it together as tightly as possible in an even layer about 3/8-inch thick. Bake for about 20 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and cut square in half and then into fifths, so you have ten bars.  They are very fragile, so be careful!  Of course any broken pieces can turn into tasty granola though….

5.  Return baking sheet to oven and cook for another 5-8 minutes, watching closely at the end of baking.  Let pan cool on rack for about 5 minutes.  Carefully transfer bars to rack and let cool completely.   They will harden up as they cool.

These can be stored in an airtight container.  If they lose their crispness, after a day or two, just toast in a toaster oven for a minute or two and then let cool completely.  They will be crunchy again!

Note:  I broke my resolve and made another batch today for a play date!  I accidentally forgot the oil (duh!), but they came out OK, and were still crunchy.  So oil is optional.

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Filed under Breakfast, Cookies, Desserts, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Monthly Lego Build and Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Secret Ingredient

Can you guess what the secret ingredient is?

*Quick note, I forgot to add earlier — after almost two years, I FINALLY figured out how to post my book, SOUP DAY, on the sidebar just days ago!  Yes, I’m kind of technically challenged (or intimidated, shall we say?)  Anyway, if you haven’t already, please check it out — I have almost reached my goal of selling enough copies for the sequel (another cooking related theme)– it’s a fun book for budding cooks! *

OK, back to the regular scheduled blog post:

Yesterday Jamie had a special play date with two friends.  I took the three of them into the city to visit the Lego store at Rockefeller Center where there is a monthly model build every first Tuesday.

Approaching Radio City Music Hall near Times Square. Such city kids.

Each month is a different theme, and each child gets to build the model and keep the original kit (while supplies last).  For the month of May, it was a tulip.

The staff there is incredibly nice and actually let the boys build their own construction using pieces in the bins for sale while waiting for the model build to begin!

Plants v.s. Zombies Zen Garden

If you are ever in the area, the Lego store is a fun visit. There are giant structures as well as fun miniature city scenes all built out of Lego, including Rockefeller Center.  I didn’t take any photos because I had to save our spot in the line.

I wanted to bring a portable snack for the boys to eat on the subway on route, so I made a Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread loaf beforehand.  I cut each slice into cubes and brought it in containers.

This bread is SO moist and full of chocolate flavor, you would never guess it is actually full of nutrients.  It’s also lower in sugar and fat than traditional zucchini bread, because I use applesauce in place of a lot of oil.

Can you guess the secret ingredient yet?  Yep, spinach.  The chocolate masks the flavor completely.  I’ve actually seen chocolate baked goods made with cooked kale, but I haven’t attempted this yet… Kale has a much stronger flavor than spinach, so I am a bit hesitant to try it out.  The spinach, however, works perfectly, I promise.

This bread is an excellent after school snack.  It’s actually good enough in my book to serve for breakfast. 🙂

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread (with special ingredient!)

Non-stick spray

1 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½  teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (23 g)

1 cup frozen spinach, or ½ cup cooked spinach

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 small zucchini or ½ medium one)

1 ripe banana, mashed

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a loaf pan with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder until evenly mixed.
  3. Microwave frozen spinach for about 1 minute on high.  Squeeze out extra water and drain.  Process in a food processor with oil until finely pureed.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Into spinach mixture, add zucchini, banana, applesauce, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well.  Then add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Then stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into lined loaf pan and dot the top with remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 1 hour. Test with a toothpick or skewer to see if done.  Let cool in pan on a rack for about 30 minutes.  Cut around edges with a knife and carefully lift out onto cooling rack (don’t invert or the chocolate chips will get smashed).
  7. Let cool, cut and serve.

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Filed under Children, Desserts, Snack, Vegetables, Vegetarian