Sunday, June 30, 2013

Granola Protein Bars

While I have a homemade or store bought granola bar, healthy cookie, every morning at work for a snack, they rarely fill me up until lunch time. The homemade ones usually do a better job, but my stomach still starts grumbling at least an hour before I get to sit down to eat. This granola bar is definitely the snack that has come the closest to keeping my tummy rumble-free until lunch. Perhaps it's the addition of vanilla protein powder, which adds subtle flavor in addition to stomach-satisfying protein, the generous size, or a combination of the two, but these the bars are exactly the fuel my stressful workday demands. Aside from the protein powder, all these elements are old hat for granola bar recipes, but that doesn't make the combination any less delicious. I close a classic combination for my first attempt, cranberry and walnut, but I already have other pairings in mind for rounds two and three - blueberry almond flax and apricot pistachio. As per usual, I froze extras, plucking one out each day to pack in my lunch, these bars just as scrumptious after thawing as fresh from the pan. They've only made it to the office so far, but I'm looking forward to the day I pack up a couple of these and hit the trail, snacking happily as I enjoy the all-too-fleeting summer in the great outdoors.

Granola Protein Bars
adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
makes 8 large or 16 small bars

1 ¼ c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c. chopped nuts and seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, etc.)
½ c. honey
1 T. water
1 t. pure vanilla or almond extract
1 t. ground cinnamon
¼ t. sea salt
1 c. crisp brown rice cereal
½ c. vanilla protein powder
1 c. dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, etc.), chopped if necessary

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the oats and nuts and/or seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until just barely toasted, about 10 min. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. Turn the heat down to 300 F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the honey, water, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Add the toasted oats and nuts, the rice cereal, and protein powder and stir until everything is coated. Stir in the dried fruit.

3. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two sides for easy removal. Dump the granola mixture in the center. Using a large spoon or your fingers, press the mixture down firmly (wetting the spoon or your fingers with warm water or spraying them with cooking spray will help), being sure to push it all the way to the corners. Bake until the top is slightly toasted, 23-25 min.

4. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Pull them out by the parchment edges and cut eight large bars or 16 small bars of equal size.

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