What are Granola Bars ?
The names "Granula" and "Granola" were trademarked in late 19th century for foods consisting of whole grain products which are crumbled and then baked until crisp.
They are found in large numbers on the shelves in supermarkets. Ever taken a close look at the ingredients and the nutrition labels on the packs of these supposedly "healthy" granola bars ?? Trust me, you'd be shocked.
The store bought granola bars range from the very healthy ones (which taste like packed dry cardboard) to the supposedly healthy ones (that are pretty much sugar bombs with loads of the fructose and maltose packed in - through the syrups).
I came across this recipe on Nigella's website. I know Nigella isn't exactly a person known for brandishing healthy recipes - I mean, almost all her recipes are quite high in fat / calorie counts. Yet again, it is a matter of personal preference and when it comes to our diet, we prefer to eat healthy (for the most part, that is !!) :-).
But this recipe caught my attention and I decided to give it a go after having made a few changes to the recipe mentally. What remained was to actually give it a try and see how it turned out.
4 baking cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
100 gms unsalted sunflower seeds
100 gms unsalted pumpkin seeds
100 gms roasted unsalted peanuts
8-10 dry apricots (chopped)
5 tbsps dry blueberries
8-10 dry strawberries (chopped)
5 tbsps dry cranberries
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1. Add all the dry ingredients and mix them together.
2. Warm the condensed milk in a saucepan on low heat, stirring all the while. If it is left unattended (even on low heat), the sugar sticks to the bottom of the pan.
3. Once warm (it does not have to boil), add this warmed up condensed milk to the dry ingredients.
4. A wooden spoon or a silicon spatula works best for mixing the whole lot together.
5. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celsius.
6. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or wax paper and grease with either oil or butter. I used a little bit of melted butter to grease the pan. You will need less than a teaspoon to grease the pan. I also coated the back of the wooden spoon with the leftover bit of melted butter.
7. Pour the granola mix into the baking tray and use the back of the wooden spoon to smoothen and even the mix in the baking tray.
8. Bake at 130 degrees celsius for an hour.
9. Once baked, take the tray out of the oven and lift the whole block of granola off the baking tray. This is just to ensure that the bars do not cook further in the heat that the baking tray would have retained from the oven.
10. After about 15 mins (while the block is still warm), cut into pieces.
11. Stored in an airtight tin, these bars can well stay upto 3 weeks. But then again, you have my word on this - they will NOT last that long. They will be merrily consumed well within the week !!
One serious disadvantage to these bars - they are dangerously addictive !!!!!!
The original recipe which was syndicated from Nigella's website, can be found here.
Changes I made to the recipe
1. Nigella's recipe calls for dessicated coconut. I substituted this with more of rolled oats.
2. Nigella's recipe calls for just cranberries. I used dry apricots, blueberries and strawberries too.
You could use chocolate chips, flax seeds, pine nuts. I mean, there's a whole world of variations that one could try with granola bars. The next time around (yes - there definitely is going to be a next time baking these), I'm going try using some bran flakes with the rolled oats.
Happy Baking !!! :-)