I've been on a bit of a rampage lately trying to straighten out our eating habits. It seems like I can't get away from the horror stories online about preservatives, processed foods, the dangers of soy, and genetically modified grains. I've always been great about making desserts from scratch (my waistline bears testament to that) but I would buy whatever was on sale for the kids to snack on. Then I started reading ingredient lists and it all sounded kind of gross! I'm taking baby steps to healthier snacks, and granola bars were one of the easiest things I found to make; they are delicious. Like I have to restrain myself and remember that these are for the kids. And then I eat them anyway.
I found the basic recipe here for chewy granola bars and then read through a bunch of the comments and followed the ones that sounded credible. Less butter and melt it, add crisped rice for texture, cut the chocolate in half. I made a test batch and decided to cut the flour in half also, and the end result is almost identical to pre-packaged granola bars but I can spell what's in these. This version is soy and dairy free (less chocolate chips); my youngest is sensitive or allergic to soy and the boxed kind contains soy three times in the ingredient list.
I'm a very visual person and I actually wanted to see what was in each snack-sized portion, so this is exactly the amount of what's in each bar; I added chocolate chips to these but next time I want to try dried apples. I'll probably replace half the butter with applesauce and add a little cinnamon. So many possibilities!
Here was my final recipe:
1/2 cup butter
4 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup crisped rice
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup honey
1 cup chocolate chips (or other add-in, if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 325º and lightly grease 9 x 13 pan.
2. In a large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Stir in oats, crisped rice, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla, and honey until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Press tightly into pan and bake for 17-19 minutes or until just starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press bars down with the bottom of another pan until compressed down. Cool completely before cutting into 18 bars.
I roll each one up in a bit of plastic wrap so they're less tempting to eat like cookies (you know, by the handful ;) and then stack them in a sealed container in the pantry.