Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My New Favorite Recipe

I have been experimenting with different recipes for some time now, looking for an easy "grab and go" breakfast bar. I've made quite a few; some were good, others flopped. Last week, though, I decided to try Playgroup Granola Bars from Allrecipes. I had seen it recommended before, but I'd never given it a second look. Why? Stupid as it sounds, I avoided it because of the name of the recipe. It sounded like something appropriate for toddlers, not older children, teens and adults.

I'm very pleased to say that I was wrong. This recipe is fabulous! It's moist and chewy and delicious. Exactly what I was looking for. It is also very adaptable to changes. I've made multiple varieties of it and they have all been successful.

If you follow the recipe as stated, it's fairly healthy with 5.5 grams of fat and 161 calories. Some reviewers cut out the fat by substituting apple sauce. I'm not a fan of the texture you get by using this technique in baked goods. I find it makes them spongy and rubbery. While I haven't tried it yet, I've considered substituting some of the vegetable oil with olive oil.

The recipe already calls for wheat germ, but you can easily add more without altering the texture or flavor very much. Flaxseed meal works well, too. The baking time isn't long enough to properly cook raw fruit, but any dried fruit is great. If you want to add chocolate chips and still lean toward healthy, dark chocolate chips have less fat and sugar and also have higher amounts of antioxidants. In any case, you'll know they're healthier than their mass produced counterparts because you control the ingredients.

Are you ready to try them yet? Here are our two favorite variations:
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (not as healthy) - Add 1/4 cup peanut butter to the wet ingredients. Leave out the cinnamon. Substitute 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips for the raisins.
  • Mixed Fruit (healthier) - Add 2 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste) to the wet ingredients. Reduce wheat germ to 1/4 cup, add 1/4 cup flaxseed meal. Substitute mixed dried fruit for the raisins. Add 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg along with the cinnamon.

The baking time in the original recipe was far longer than needed for me. I baked all varieties for a total of 18 minutes. After they were cut and cooled, I individually wrapped and sealed them so they are ready to grab or pack in lunch bags.

I have ideas for other varieties I would like to try soon. Adding mashed banana and walnuts sounds like a good combination. Dried cranberries with white chocolate chips would probably be good, too.

If you haven't tried them yet, you really should. Then report back to me with your variations so I can try those, too!!


Lissaloo said...

I lOVE this recipe, it's our favorite as well. I am excited to try it with the PB that's sounds really good! I have done them with mini choc. chips, once with dried blueberries, once with dried huckleberries, once with diced dried apricots.
This is definitely the best granola bar recipe ever :)

Willoughby said...

I love recipes like this that you can have fun with! I used mixed dried fruit that had dried blueberries in it, but I never thought about apricots! Maybe a touch of almond extract would be a nice flavor combo. I'll bet the dried huckleberries were good, too, but I don't think I've ever seen them around here. I'll have to look!

thamesarino said...

we love this recipe too... I just realized that all this time I haven't been your follower.. problem rectified. : )

ChristineM said...

I love those too! In fact, I was just thinking of making some as I haven't done so in a while! I love adding dried blueberries to mine.

Pamela said...

I still have to try these! Thanks for the perm advice! My SIL just got her license, so I was considering having her do it. :) I'll let everyone know soon!

Willoughby said...

Thames - No problem! I'm glad to have you here!

Christine - I can't seem to stop making these granola bars, it's so much fun to try new variations!

Pam - You're welcome for the perm advice! You've really got to try this recipe. I had no idea they would be this good!