My hubby and I have been training to run longer distances - we are not "runners" by any stretch of the imagination. But, it's one way for us to spend time together and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Currently, we are training for our first 10k race - we are very excited about it!
We probably run about 4 times a week, and I have realized that what we consume throughout the week affects whether we have a good run or not. Let me emphasize - we are not crazy health nuts (not that there is anything wrong with that). We do believe in moderation for everything, including things that health nuts probably would swear off. But, I love to eat good food - I definitely carry a "sinners and saints" type attitude toward eating.
I also believe I am becoming more aware of what I am putting into my body in terms of sodium, artificial flavors and sugar content. Which is why I believe in homemade SO much - I am in control AND I have full knowledge of what my family is consuming.
I love granola bars - but I even remain quite skeptical of anything commercial that is labeled "healthy". When you actually read the ingredients, alot of times it's far from healthy. So, when I came across this recipe for homemade granola bars - I couldn't resist. It would provide great fuel as we train and increase our running distance, as well as just finding a good ole' healthy snack. Win-win.
Homemade Granola Bars
Original Recipe by Ina Garten "Back to Basics" Cookbook, page 242
2 C old fashioned oatmeal
1 C sliced almonds
1 C shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 C toasted wheat germ
3 T unsalted butter
2/3 C honey
1/4 C light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 C chopped pitted dates
1/2 C chopped dried apricots
1/2 C dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 x 12" baking dish and line with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
*Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into a prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press evenly into the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
They were SOOOO good! My daughter ended up bringing them to school with her lunch, as well as my hubby - so now the pressure is on to make more for them!! But - once you make these, you'll realize there is NO pressure because they are super easy. :-)
- I used a 9x13 dish instead of an 8x12.
- I omitted the dates - I just don't care for them.
- I used both regular dried apricots and organic. My advice - go organic! They taste way better!!
- I found they were a bit crumblier than I preferred, so I will continue to "play" with this by possibly adding more honey and butter (seriously, that won't do any harm, right?)
- The first time I made this, I forgot to turn the oven down and they ended up slightly burnt. Instead of tossing, I broke it up into crumbly pieces, and I'll eat it over plain vanilla yogurt. I don't believe in wasting ANYTHING!!
Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy
Enjoy and live with gusto!