Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Power Bars

In my renewed quest to find recipes for more homemade treats for my morning snack instead of commercial granola bars, I came across this absolute gem of a recipe from Heidi Swanson. Her recipes are the kind that make you crave healthy food, these power bars being no exception. The toasty walnuts and sweet-tart cranberries are perfectly accented by the subtle zing of crystallized ginger in these vibrant bites of flavor and nutrition. The original recipe called for just cooking down the brown rice syrup mixture, but I baked mine for a while to set them a bit more and add a little toasty, crunchy texture to these chewy bars. And as with so many recipes I try, this one is ripe with possibilities for experimentation-raisins and sunflower seeds, dried cherries and pecans, maybe even chocolate chips and coconut-the possibilities are nearly endless. Although there's not always to make everything I'd like to from scratch, recipes like this one make me happy to invest a little extra effort.

Do-It-Yourself Power Bars
adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
makes 16 to 24 bars

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving ample overhang to serve as handles, and grease coconut oil or canola oil baking spray. If you like thick power bars, ope for an 8 by 8-inch pan; for thinner bars, use a 9 by 13-inch pan.

2. Mix the oats, walnuts, oat bran, cereal, cranberries and ginger together in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the rice syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly as it comes to a boil and thickens just a bit, about 4 minutes. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until the syrup is evenly incorporated.

3. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared pan and press firmly. Bake, rotating once, until the top is golden brown, about 15 to 25 minutes, depending on personal preference. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool until room temperature. Remove the granola bars from the pan using the parchment or foil sling and cut into whatever size bars you like.

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