I make a mean granola in the cooler months, but I’ve been hankering for a nutritious, car- friendly version for the summer commute (without heating up the kitchen for 2-3 hours of cooking time on these 90 degree days). Tired of the average (at best) “power” breakfast or granola bars (for one to two bucks a pop), I took some tips from Alton Brown (Good Eats), and made my own. I was also able to increase the nutritional value and skew the flavors to really hit the spot.
AB claimed I could make any of these for about 5 cents a bar… and while I did have some ingredients on hand, and bought as many organic ingredients possible for the bulk of what I didn’t, the damage was actually about 55 cents a pop. The time spent prepping was equal to, or less than, the drive to the store. So it was still time, and money, well spent.
Granola bars came first… but I had to make some subsitutions. Trader Joes didn’t have good old fashioned rolled oats, and I didn’t feel like running around, so if a substitution was available (and made sense) then I went with plan B.
A four-grain hot cereal played the part of oatmeal. (oats, barley, wheat and rye). If anything, I’ve upped the nutrition here. I also skipped the sunflower seeds. Not a huge fan. Lastly, TJ’s didn’t have any dried apricots or cherries (surprisingly). So I increased the amount of blueberries, and added chocolate chips!
The result – delicious! Crunchy, chewy, sweet (but not too sweet). The only negative was that they didn’t hold together very well. Not sure if that was because of the recipe or my not packing them into the pan firmly enough. I’ll find out the next few times I make these. My wife and daughter really liked these as well, so I think I won’t change the recipe (as already altered, I mean)
- 2 cups rolled Multi-grain cereal
- 1 cup sliced almonds (plus 1/2 cup, unless using sunflower seeds)
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (sea or kosher)
- 3 oz dried blueberries
- 3 oz chocolate chips
original recipe for granola bars, and directions
Next up was the healthier take on rice krispy treats. As with the granola bars I made the previous week, I had some substitutions in store. Primarily with the major component – no puffed brown rice cereal was to be had. Enter Kashi! No nutrition lost with this switch. Still didn’t have dried cherries on hand, so chocolate chips stepped in once again – to round out the almonds, blueberries and cranberries.
These came out pretty good. Almost no coooking involved with this recipe. I don’t think I was ever a big fan of the good old version off the Rice Krispies box, so I’m not the best judge for these. They weren’t as big a hit as the granola bars were with the rest of the family. I think they came out tasting stale to be honest, but they were good enough (better on the second day). I did eat them all, over the course of about two weeks. Can’t say I would crave making these again… perhaps if they were the peanut butter version rather than the marshmallow version, then I might be onto something.
Lastly, today, I made the protein bars. I stuck to the recipe verbatim on this batch. I stole enough dried cherries out of a bag of trail mix from TJ’s, and got dried apricots from the supermarket. I would have had this recipe together much quicker if somebody wasn’t stealing the apricots almost as fast as I was chopping them.
These are the healthiest by far. Lots of protein, peanut butter, soy protein powder, silken tofu, eggs, and a host of natural ingredients to cover all the bases (nutritionally speaking), oat bran, wheat germ, dried fruits.
The verdict? They’re good, (i just ate three), but I’ll probably be the only person in the house to eat these. The texture is a little weird. They’re kind of like a cross between a hermit, whole wheat pancake and a dense muffin. Very tasty though. Could have upped the peanut butter, or added a chocolate drizzle (if not chips).
However, since these are just as, if not more, wholesome than the pricier fare available at the supermarket and specialty shops, I’ll make these again (the granola and protein versions, that is). I usually have most of these ingredients on hand anyway.