I spend about 90% of my day eating (warning: I’m not good at math). I don’t sit down to 3 meals a day, I graze on pretty much whatever food is within reach. Often that means pretzels, chips, M&Ms, coffee, and if I planned ahead, an apple and some cheese, with a few mini meals here and there. Occasionally, I try to make sure a few of those snacking options are healthy.
I stumbled upon this recipe when I was looking for a way to use up some of the wheat germ I’d bought for another recipe. I’m not even sure what that other recipe was – because I never made it again – but I make my own granola bars on a regular basis now. I’ve brought them to work, to camp, on road trips, I even brought them to the hospital when my sister was in labor. They’re great any time!
Cranberry White Chocolate Granola Bars (adapted from Playgroup Granola Bars)
- 2 cups oats
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries*
- 1/2 cup white chips*
- 3/4 t salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
*Don’t like cranberries or white chocolate? Don’t worry, you can still make amazing granola bars! Keep reading…
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine your oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, flour, cinnamon, cranberries, chips and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Like Kat, I’m a big fan of Penzeys Spices. Instead of just cinnamon for this batch, I used my Penzeys Baking Spice, with Ceylon Cinnamon, China Cassia, ground Spanish Anise Seed, Allspice, Mace and Cardamom. I can’t pronounce some of those – and mace, really? what is that? – but the combination is lovely.
Next you’re going to make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Add the oil, honey, egg and vanilla to the well.
Here’s a random fact about me: I hate doing dishes. Hate it hate it hate it. So if there’s a way I can cut corners I am all for it. I know you’re supposed to use one type of measuring cup for liquids and one type for dry ingredients, blah blah blah, but for this recipe I’ve found (because I’m lazy) I can get away with reusing measuring cups. I use the 1/2 cup from the wheat germ to measure the oil and honey.
And here’s a bonus tip: if you measure the oil first, then use the same cup for the honey, the honey won’t stick to the measuring cup. Woot!
Cutting down on dishes again: I use the 1 cup measure from the flour as a bowl to beat the egg in.
Mix it all up, starting with the wet ingredients in the well and slowly adding the dry ingredients. You can use your hands, or a spoon and a lot of elbow grease.
Line a 9X13 baking dish or a baking pan with foil, and spray with non-stick spray (the foil is mostly to make things easier to clean up). Dump your granola mixture into the pan and press it into something of a rectangular shape, keeping the thickness as even as possible. I usually spread the granola to about 3/4 inch thick. If you like your granola bars chewier, keep them thicker. If you like them crisp, make them thinner (just keep an eye on them while they bake).
Let the granola bars cool for up to 10 minutes, then slice them and let them cool completely. If you wait longer than that to cut them, you’ll have a pretty hard time of it.
I cut the granola bars by slicing down the middle length-wise, and then cut the bars to be 1 to 1.5 inches wide. This batch made about 14 granola bars, plus the crisp edges, which I cut off and ate right away 🙂 .
To keep the granola bars from fusing into one giant granola mess in my tupperware container, I cut strips of parchment paper and wrap them individually before stacking them. Then I can just toss one or two into a plastic sandwich bag and take them to work!
So, I told you that you could still make these if you don’t like cranberries and/or white chocolate. You can switch up the add-ins of this recipe however you want. Don’t like cranberries? Add a different fruit, or none at all. Add chocolate chips. Add nuts. Add peanut butter, or applesauce, or bananas. Or keep them plain, if you prefer. I generally use about 1/2 cup of whatever add-ins I’ve chosen, and extend the bake time a bit if I add applesauce or bananas. My favorite combination is peanut butter with chocolate chips. What would you use?