Tag Archives: honey

Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars


Ok, so I meant to post this earlier, but I’ve been completely distracted by the recent events.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to people in the surrounding areas hit by Sandy.  Hats off to the relief effort!  The workers, leaders, and neighbors have been amazing.

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Pre-hurricane, Jamie and I made these granola bars to bring to a play date.  They aren’t the healthiest granola bars — they’re more like healthier Rice Krispie Treats!   Instead of marshmallows and butter, I used peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, brown sugar.  Then mixed it with oats, almonds in addition to rice cereal.  Super easy to make, with no baking required.

I went through about four iterations, and I like this ratio of oats, rice cereal, sweetness and chew the best.  Hope you do too!

Dry ingredients: oats, rice cereal, sliced almonds

Wet ingredients: honey, peanut butter, coconut oil, brown sugar

Pressed into pan.

Cut into bars

Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars

¾ cups old fashioned oats

1 ½ cups rice cereal

¼ cup toasted, sliced almonds

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil or melted butter)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup peanut butter (I use the natural, goopy kind – TJ creamy, salted)

1/3 cup chocolate chips

  1. Mix oats, cereal and almonds in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter until incorporated.  Pour over dry ingredients in big bowl.  Mix to coat.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Transfer mixture to a 8-inch by 8-inch pan lined with foil or parchment paper.  Press down firmly and pack into pan in an even layer of  granola.  Chill in refrigerator for about an hour.
  4. Cut into 10 bars (cut square in half, then into fifths).
  5. Wrap each bar in saran wrap.  They are great on the go!

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Filed under Children, Desserts, Snack, Vegetarian

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

Nut Butter Truffles and Chia Seed Granola

“Energy Balls” coated with Chia Seed Granola


I’ve seen various nut butter “balls” or “truffles” all over the blogsphere.  They are really easy to make and so delicious — great for a portable snack and much cheaper than buying an energy or protein bar.

Basically, you can just mix equal parts nut butter with liquid sweetener and two parts powder, such as non fat milk powder.  I have also made them with protein powder and roasted peanut flour with great results.  For the nut butter, I have used almond and peanut butters, but cashew or walnut or macademia nut butters would be divine.  It is easy to make your own nut butter if you can’t find the kind you like.

This is what the ideal texture of the truffle “paste” looks like after mixing together your ingredients:

This is a combination of almond butter, honey, and milk powder mixed by hand.

You then just shape a portion into a ball, similar to making a meatball, and roll and coat in whatever topping you’d like.   Then refrigerate to firm them up for about 30 minutes.  I store them in an air tight container in the fridge.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Finished truffles


Recently I started experimenting with chia seeds because I keep reading about how great they are for you.  They are full of omega-3s, protein, fiber, and minerals.  They were eaten by the Aztecs and are considered to be a “super food”.  When mixed with water, the seeds become gelatinous.  When eaten, this gelatinous configuration slows down digestion and makes you feel full.

I actually wasn’t crazy about the gelatinous texture (a lot of people eat it in smoothies and oatmeal), so I decided to roast them instead and use them in granola.

I used to make granola all the time and hadn’t for awhile. Granola is great to make with kids too –  it is so easy and is a delicious and healthier snack alternative.

At the store gathering ingredients for granola

When I saw my friend, Anna’s extra chunky granola recipe on her fabulous blog, Cookie Madness, I had to make some.

I had a few “fails” at first.  One was that the pumpkin seeds I used turned out to be stale!  People, always check your ingredients before putting them into whatever you are making whenever possible!  Grrr… This was remedied by me letting my OCD tendencies run wild and I hand picked each one out of the batch.

They look harmless, but I had to throw them out, they tasted so stale.

The other “fail” was that since I used liquid egg whites instead of a fresh egg white, AND I didn’t squish the mixture into a tight slab before baking as Anna’s recipe instructs, my granola did not have the cluster like texture I was hoping for.

Since it was like regular granola (i.e. not chunky), I used some to coat some Almond Butter Truffles and renamed them “Energy Balls” as they are a healthier version of the more decadent ones I had made before.

These were gobbled up at a Memorial Day picnic this past weekend.  I love the crunch the granola adds.  The chia seeds were crunchy, like poppy seeds, so the gummy texture did not happen until in my stomach!

Nut Butter Truffles

Use a 1:1:2 ratio of peanut butter or almond butter or other nut butter, honey or other liquid sweetener, and twice the amount of non-fat instant milk powder.

Mix together, shape into balls, and coat with whatever you like, such as mini chocolate chips, dried coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon sugar, almonds, cereal, granola, etc.

Chill to firm up for about 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator.  Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Chia Seed Granola, based on Anna’s Extra Chunky Granola

Note: I halved the recipe because I baked it in a Cuisinart toaster oven

I didn’t add the mixed nuts because I didn’t have any — just sliced almonds.  This also worked well with the Energy Balls, because the nuts would have been too big.

Non-stick spray

3/4 tablespoon butter

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (preferably not stale!)

1/3 cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons dried coconut

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 tablespoon liquid egg white (this will make the granola a regular granola texture.  If you want extra chunky, use 1/2 tablespoon fresh egg white, as per Anna’s recipe after halving and press together very tightly in to a thin slab before baking)

1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (I used three dried apricots)

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Heat butter, oil, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and salt in a small sauce pan on stove.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool.

3.  Mix dry ingredients except dried fruit together in a large bowl.  Evenly coat oat mixture with egg white.  Then pour the sweet liquid mixture over and evenly coat.  Spread in one  layer on baking sheet.

4.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Let cool, and then stir to break up, add dried fruit.

Makes about 10 ounces.

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Filed under Desserts, Snack, Vegetarian