Getting real food on the table isn’t our only challenge. How we speak about food to our families is just as important as how we prepare it. We are up against the billion dollar packaged and fast food marketing budgets. You don’t see anyone making a song and dance number about bok choy or putting a prize in a head of broccoli or creating movie tie-ins with spaghetti squash – despite the obvious promotional co-branding with Disney’s Tangled.
In the meantime, we have mouths to feed which brings me, by a circuitous ranting path, to granola bars. To you and me, they will be whole grain-fiber-mixed with natural oils and protein-w/out much sugar bars, but to everyone else – granola bars, because it just sounds tastier, or still better – happy bars. This isn’t one of those deceptively delicious tactics of sneaking in foods that kids don’t prefer, but rather it’s more a repositioning of our food’s image. Usually I opt for telling the kids why the good food and what it does for them, but in this case, they don’t need to be reminded that fiber will keep their bowels clean, come to think of it neither do we. We know that grains, wheat germ, dark chocolate, nuts, and oats – satisfies some of our daily food requirements while giving our bodies some ammo for warding off nasty illnesses and that’s enough.
Also of note, we like having ready snack food and these bars freeze well and last forever – at least no one has ever become ill in my house from month-old granola bars. I swear they are made without preservatives, but somehow they last without losing crunch.
Taking a lesson from our friends in Africa who charmed us each morning with good grains for sunrise game drives, I combined cereals, nuts, and whole grain ingredients. The trick, as Chef Jackson shared, is a hot mixture of butter, brown sugar, and honey as the binding agent. I went with more honey than sugar which makes the bars more pliable and, to me, more palatable. Some fruit and nut bar recipes I found, don’t use brown sugar, relying on just honey or agave syrup and butter.
We begin with our favorite dry ingredients: nuts, cereals, wheat germ, flaxseed, etc. Then bring the binding mixture to a boil and immediately pour into the dry mixture. While still warm, press the granola bar mixture into a pan.
Let the mixture cool and cut into bars. I wrapped each bar in wax paper and froze half of the batch. Did you just groan and think where is the time-saving factor in becoming a human packaging machine? Hear me out, by wrapping the bars I not only preserve my work with a good freezing method, but I have packaged them for lunches and food on the go. Ultimately, they look more appealing to the eye – another lesson from the packaged food industry – and that’s better for getting it into the tummy.
granola bars, cereal bars, energy bars – happy bars
2 c flake cereal (Special K in photo)
2 c rolled oats
1/4 c wheat germ
1/4 c flax meal
1/4 c sliced almonds
2 T butter
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c honey
1/2 c dark chocolate chips
Lightly grease 9×9 inch pan. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In small heavy bottom saucepan, melt butter and sugar. Add honey and bring to a gentle boil. Pour hot mixture over the dry ingredients. Combine quickly, add chocolate and tightly press into the pan.
Cook’s Options: Seemingly endless combinations to use your favorite cereals, nuts, grains or seeds. Add dried fruits. Use less cereal and more nuts and fruit for lower carb bars. Use peanut butter in the hot mixture.
recipe brought to you by your friends at crunchtimefood.com