Sadly, it’s been a while since I’ve posted something. I feel like blogging is akin to losing weight, sticking to an exercise regim, or some other thing you know you want to do, but sometimes lose the motivation for. I’ve also struggled with determining if something is worth posting. Is it original? Is this something other people will find interesting? I’ve realized that I need to start blogging for me, which may mean that I don’t blog two to three times a week. From this point forward, I’m going to blog when I feel inspired to. It also means that I don’t have to stress and fret over whether I think something is “cool enough” to blog about. If I think it’s interesting, that’s good enough.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, on to what I’ve been up to. 🙂
For a while now, I’ve had a fascination for “the old school” when it comes to cooking. Ever since the green food movement has become…how shall I put this…all up in your face, I find myself pausing more often to consider what I include in my diet. A few months ago, my office started a healthy eating challenge. I’ve never dieted or worked out (well I still don’t exercise, but I’m working on it), but it was because of this challenge that I started paying attention to what and how much I put into my body.
For the most part I’m pretty healthy when it comes to making food choices, but I’m no food saint and I realize that I can do a better job when I comes to nutrition. Over the past few years, I’ve slowly removed unhealthy items from my stapels list and replaced them with more responsible choices. One of the areas in which I struggle is breakfast foods. I’m not a breakfast person, but now that I work 8-5ish, skipping it would be foolish. I have some go-to work week breakfasts: mason jar smoothies, grape nuts cereal, oatmeal (I’ll be making my own instant oatmeal packs this weekend), yogurt with homemade granola (compliments of my boyfriend’s mom). But I’m getting bored. I don’t wake up early enough to make a hot breakfast (shamefully, I eat at my desk), so I’ve been thinking of things that I can make ahead to mix things up when it comes to work-week breakfasts.
The first thing I’m trying is homemade granola bars. In the past, I used to turn to Fiber 1, Nature Valley, or Special K bars, but I don’t care for their ingredient list or their price tag. In trying to make more things from scratch, I checked out a few books from my public library. The one I’m flipping through now is “The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You can Stop Buying & Start Making” by Alana Chernila. I combined her recipe with Ina Garten’s Homemade Granola Bars and changed up a few ingredients to come up with what you see below. The great thing about granola and granola bars is that they are so forgiving. Feel free to substitute or add in ingredients that you like!
Back to Basics Granola Bars
Makes 16 Bars
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup oat bran (can sub with wheat germ)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Grease a 9×13 inch pan with butter or cooking spray. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and then grease the paper. Set aside.
- In a small pot over low heat, melt together the butter, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. You want the brown sugar to be completely dissolved. Don’t let it boil!
- Mix the oats, peanuts, oat bran, salt, raisins, apricots, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
- Once the sugar and honey mixture is melted, pour it over the oat mixture and stir until well combined. You shouldn’t see any dry bits in the mix.
- Pour the mixture into the greased pan and press down with a greased spatula. Make sure you really press things down!
- Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
- Cool completely before cutting into bars.
To store, wrap each bar in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Nutrition Information (per bar)
Calories: 259 | Carbs: 38 g | Fat: 10 g | Protein: 7 g | Sodium: 60 mg | Sugar: 23 g