Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chewy Granola Bars

I made these granola bars last week, as part of our ongoing effort to save money. Granola bars at the store aren't too expensive, but the cost adds up after awhile, especially considering how incredibly inexpensive and easy they are to make from scratch.

I made a double batch of these to maximize my time, and made one pan with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, and the other batch with mini chocolate chips. The cranberry ones were hands-down the family favorite, but both were good.

Brad and I have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, straight from 9am to 1:30pm. We leave the house at 7:15am and don't get home until about 3:00, so I've taken to packing us some quick snacks to eat in the 10 minutes as we walk between classes. I have a bento box about the size of a steno pad, with 3 divided compartments. I stick some granola bars, chunks of fruit, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, and other similar foods in there, and it works out really well. If not for this, we'd either have growling tummies by the time we got home, or else we'd drop money at the Student Union for a Chick Fil-A. Either way, not a good option, so the bento box and these granola bars are saving us money and improving our quality of life. ; ) You can't beat that!

Chewy Granola Bars

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan with Pam.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.

Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

Variations: Instead of dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, use any desired ingredients. Some options are mini chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, chopped walnuts, pecans or other nuts, mini marshmallows, raisins, etc.

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