Most food, with me, fall into two categories. I either hate it and won’t touch it with a ten feet pole (like raw tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes, and passionfruit) or love it and can’t get enough of it in any shape or form.
Oats happen to fall into the latter category. Oatmeal porridge, oatmeal cookies- hell, offer me anything with oats (as long as it doesn’t also include tomatoes or passionfruit) and I’ll be hard pressed to say no. And it so happens that oats are good exceptionally good for one’s health- lucky me!
Given how much I love oats and, by association, granola, I don’t know why I didn’t think of making granola bars earlier. But the important thing is that I did get down to make them- and absolutely loved them.
Jam-packed with plump dried cranberries, a delirious toasted trio of almonds, sunflower seeds and pistachio and crunchy golden brown oats, these bars were just bursting with goodness and delicious to boot. They were like the world’s most perfect breakfast, only a zillion times better. I mean really, can you think of anything else you would want for breakfast? I certainly can’t.
So I think it’s pretty much an understatement when I say that until I find a new breakfast favourite (maybe after six straight months of eating these babies), I’ll be wiping out my nearest supermarket’s supply of oats for a while.
Crunchy Granola Bars [adapted from The Best New Recipes by America's Test Kitchen]
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mixture of pistachio, almond nuts and sunflower seeds†
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pineapple juice††
1/4 cup honey†††
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar†††
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven at 175C. Line an 8″ square pan with aluminium foil and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, salt and oil together. Mix well and tip the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Bake it for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the oat mixture is lightly toasted and golden brown. Remove the pan from oven and tip the oat mixture back into the large bowl. Turn the oven temperature down to 150C.
- Combine the dried cranberries and pineapple juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove the pan from heat and set aside.
- Toast the mixed nuts in a pan until fragrant. Remove from pan. Coarsely chop half of the nut mixture and using a food processor, grind the rest of the nut mixture till finely ground. Add both the coarsely chopped and finely ground nuts to the oat mixture. Drain the dried cranberries and add it to the oat mixture as well.
- Combine the honey and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir the cinnamon and vanilla extract in. Pour the honey mixture into the bowl of oat mixture.
- Mix the oats, mixed nuts mixture and honey mixture really well. Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press the oat mixture into the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the granola bars are golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing the bars from the pan. Slice into 8 bars, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container. Makes 8 bars
† I used pistachios, almonds and sunflower seeds because, well, I like them but feel free to use pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts or any other nuts you like
†† Pineapple juice was all I had on hand so I used that, it worked out surprisingly well but you could use either apple or orange juice
††† I used my favourite wildflower honey from Mark & Spencer’s and reduced the amount of honey and sugar from 3/8 cup each.