Healthy Eating: Granola bars, just in time for back to school

Deborah Binder

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already passed the Autumn equinox and the school year is well under way.  When children go back to school, our lives get easier in some ways and more complicated and busier in other ways. I am always looking for “healthyish” treats to make and to serve my family. I think this granola bar works nicely for a quick breakfast, a lunch treat or an after-school snack.

With an oat-and-nut base, these bars pack in protein. I have experimented with the amount of sugar and cut back making these bars not too sweet (remember they do contain jam, too). Feel free to substitute maple syrup if you want, but know they will have a slightly different texture. The best thing about these bars is that they are easy to make and you can change up the ingredients based on what you have in the house. You can cut them into bite-size pieces or make them larger for the athlete in your clan. I’ve even been known to throw in cocoa nibs or chocolate chips to make them as a dessert. The flavor profile is up to you because you can choose any flavor of your favorite jam.

Jammy Granola Bars

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 40 min

Ingredients:
1 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped  (hazelnuts or walnuts could be substituted if you have a preference)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted
1 cup jam  (flavor of your choice!)

Instructions:
Heat the oven to 350°F and place the rack in the center. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two opposite sides for easier lifting when the bars are done. Butter the parchment. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Watch them carefully. Let cool.

Whisk together the flour, oats, sugars, salt, baking soda, and cooled pecans in large bowl. Pour in the melted butter, and stir until well combined.

Press two-thirds of the oat mixture (about 3 cups) into an even, firmly packed layer on the bottom of the baking pan. Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the  jam evenly across the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch  border uncovered at the edges (the jam will melt and spread closer to the edges). Evenly sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the jam.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the granola bars cool completely in the pan on a rack, about 3 hours.  Lift up the overhanging ends of the parchment paper and transfer the granola almost-bars to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Watch them disappear.

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at jaideborah@yahoo.com.

 

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