Thursday, June 12, 2008

Granola "Muffins"

granola muffin

For some time now, I've been on a quest for a healthy homemade granola bar. For the past few years I've relied on store bought granola bars for a quick breakfast option I could eat on the go. But as I've grown more health conscious , I've grown to realize that most of these conveinent bars are not a healthy choice. A while ago I tried a recipe for baked granola bars, using peanut butter and egg white as a binder. The bars ended up tasting fine, but they didn't have the chewy texture I was looking for like the store bought bars.

I gave up on the quest for some time until finding this 'power bar' recipe at 101 Cookbooks. This post set a whirl of frenzy in the ol' mind grapes. These power bars sounded exactly like what I had been dreaming of making all this time!
So I set to work immedietly on my own version. I based it all on what I had kicking around the kitchen, so It ended up being a fruit version-using peanut butter and blueberry syrup as the base, with mixed nuts, coconut, raisins, dried cranberries, and apricots. I liked them fine enough, but I knew there was a better version waiting to be discovered.

This version is what I like to call "Healthy Decadance" Yes there is peanut butter, but it's organic natual peanut butter, with no added sugar or salt. It's got plenty of protein from all the nuts used, and I've snuck in some healthy ingridents that don't effect the taste negetively. I even let myself use (dark) chocolate chips! (because dark chocolate is good for you!)

One thing that most excites me about this recipe is the muffin shape they recieved. This idea occurred out of pure laziness, when I found that our only decent size square pan was dirty, and I was in no mood to clean it. I instead decided to form these in a muffin tin. Taking away an extra dish to wash and making even more convienient sized granola bars? Yes please!

granola muffin

But since I hate dishes and won't dirty a dish unless I need it-that includes measuring cups! I didn't measure any of these ingredients. The following is just an approximation of what I used.

Granola "Muffins"

1/2 cup rice cereal (I used Special K)
1/2 cup oats
2 cups of nuts, roasted (whatever variety you desire!)
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp flax meal
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1-1 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (smooth and chunky both work, I prefer chunky)
1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (coconut or almond would also work)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350. Scatter the nuts and coconut on a flat pan, and roast until the nuts are slightly browned and the coconut is golden. About 5-7 mins. Stir once half way through. Keep an eye on them, make sure they don't burn!
While the nuts are roasting, combine the rice cereal, oats, flax, wheat germ, and chocolate chips. Once the nuts have cooled a bit, add to the oat/cereal mixture.
While the nuts are cooling, combine PB, syrup, and honey until fluid. Add the salt, extract, cinnamon, espresso, and mix well.
Add the saucy mixture to the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Using a spoon, place a small ammount of the mixture in a greased muffin tin. Spritz your hands with some pam, or roll around some butter and press down firmly on each muffin. Let cool to room temp.


The possibilities here are really endless. Try playing around with different flavored syrups, nut combinations, or even cereals. It's an easy recipe to adapt to the ingredients you have on hand and like!

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