Thursday, March 10, 2011

Make your own granola bars: quick and easy

Lauren Braun Costello -- chef, author and food stylist -- shows busy moms how to make meals using ingredients they already have in their pantries, solving their unique cooking challenges. In this episode, Lauren shows Jennifer C., a mother of two and a PR professional, how to make an easy and healthy snack for her son using currants. Her recipe? Chewy granola bars.

To begin, Lauren mixes together her dry ingredients in a bowl: quick oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt, currants and chopped apricots. Feel free to be creative with this part -- you can also add coconut, nuts or other dried fruit.

Next, Lauren moves on to the wet ingredients. (These are mixed in a seperate bowl to ensure they're well-mixed before being combined with the dry ingredients.) The combination of honey and maple syrup makes things sticky and sweet, while vegetable oil contributes necessary fat. Vanilla extract lends a heady perfume to the bars.

She pours the wet ingredients into the dry, then mixes until all of the oats are saturated. When the granola is ready, Lauren lines a baking pan with parchment paper (this will keep the bars from sticking) and presses the granola into the pan. After baking, cut into bars and you're ready to eat.

(yield:16 bars)

2 cups quick rolled oats

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup currants

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Gather these tools: cutting board, chef's knife, dry measuring cups, measuring spoons, large mixing bowl, fork, grill or grill pan, small saucepan, wooden spoon, sauté pan, offset spatula

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9" x 13" pan with wax or parchment paper. Stir together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, currants, apricots, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl, being sure to break up any clumps of sugar or dried fruit. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the honey, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.

Remove from the oven and lift the wax or parchment paper from the pan. Let the granola slab cool for 5 minutes before removing the paper and cutting into bars. Cool completely before eating or wrapping.

Granola bars are so popular that they pack the isles in every grocery store. They are actually very easy to make homemade. The proper mix of oats, seasoning, sweetness, and dried fruit is all you need. Currants are even better than raisins for granola bars because they are half the size with just as much flavor. The result is a pleasing texture in every bite for a deliciously chewy granola bar.

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