I started to attempt to write this post early yesterday with the din of 3 four year old boys in the background. More fool me for thinking that I’d manage to get much of anything done with the three of them in the house. T has a standing Friday play date with 2 of hos pre-school friends. It’s great, as we moms take it in turn to host the play date, while the other 2 moms take off and get time to do whatever it is that they need to do. I did manage to make a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for C’s school Christmas party (using Bob’s Red Mill cookie mix – a bit of a cop out, but really tasty and really easy). I also made up a batch of granola bars. A recent new addition to my gluten-free repertoire.
Today officially marked day one of our Christmas break. We slept in. Great! M is in Stockholm right now, so a trend has already been set of watching a movie with mom in bed and then snuggling up and all falling asleep together. It was the first Toy Story last night and Toy Story 2 is being screened tonight. Have already forewarned that mom might want her bed back tomorrow – but then there’s Toy Story 3…
Anyway, back to granola bars. C has a trash-free lunch program at school. The kids are rewarded when they bring x amounts of trash-free lunches and C gets very cross at me if I so much as dare to pack anything in his lunchbox that has any packaging on it. I’d gotten to the point a few weeks ago where it dawned on me how crazy it was to be plowing through box after box of store bought gluten-free snack bars when I was taking the wrappers off each individual bar and trashing them at home every day, ensuring that no trash went to school, but creating just as much landfill anyway.
I’d been meaning to make my own gluten-free granola bars for a while and for some reason it was one of those things that I never quite got around to. Crazy really, that it was one of those things that I practically lived off in my student days. Except for the fact that the Brits aren’t quite as much into granola and oaty snack bars tend to be a bit more squidgy and are called ‘Flapjacks’. One of the first things that I’d do when vacationing at my mums house would be to make a batch of Flapjacks as she always had the best ever homemade muesli mix that made the best ever bars. Funny how I’d forgotten that good old flapjack obsession until I started to make granola bars a couple of weeks ago. The first batch was a bit sticky, but they still went down a storm. C’s school friends apparently declared that they were the best ever, as he broke off pieces for them to try. I was promptly encouraged to keep up the trend and make more. I made them slightly more crunchy and granola-like than the ones I used to make and dug about online to get inspiration, before coming up with my own variation on the theme.
Here is how I made them:
2 cups of gluten-free oats (I used Bobs Red Mill)
1 cup of mixed nuts. I used chopped walnuts, pecans and almonds.
1/2 cup of honey (local lavender honey in this case)
1/2 cup of agave nectar
1 cup of raw cane sugar
2tbs butter or butter substitute. I use Earths Best spread.
1tsp of vanilla essence
1/2 tsp of fine sea salt
1 1/2 additional cups of gluten-free oats, or a mixture of oats and gluten-free brown rice cereal = to 1 1/2 cups in total. The brown rice cereal makes the bars a bit chewier.
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
1/4 cup of dried cherries (you could also use raisins or cranberries, if you can’t get dried cherries). You could also substitute the fruit for semisweet chocolate chips, if that is your preference.
1 tbs of ground flax or roasted flax seeds.
- To get the crunchy granolaey texture, heat the oven to 325°F, 165°C, lay 2 cups of the oats and the mixed nuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast for 10 minutes, turning once.
- While roasting, mix the butter, honey, agave nectar,sugar, vanilla essence and salt together in a pan and melt together over a low heat. Remove from heat when thoroughly mixed and melted.
- Then mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture will be pretty gooey, but should start ‘holding’ together.
- Take a cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Put the granola mix in. Spread and press it in until it is distributed evenly. The size of cake pan you use will depend on how thick you want the bars to be. I used a 9 x 13 inch pan.
- Use a knife and mark out/score the individual granola bars before you pop the pan in the oven. This will help to cut out the bars, once the mixture has cooled.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 325°F, 165°C.
- Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.
- Store in an air tight container with a layer or parchment paper in between layers of the bars, to avoid them sticking together.
If you don’t want the crunchy texture and would prefer the bars to be softer, then do not roast the oats and nuts as in step 1.