Our society loves options, and I admit, I do too. When I’m home in Maine for the summer, I love that I have 4 local ice cream parlors within a 3 mile radius from my house, have a variety of beaches to choose from, and have what seems to be an endless amount of options for day hikes available. I love to mix and match my exercise activities-maybe I’ll run, go for a long walk, swim, bike, or attempt to do yoga. I may switch from reading a book to a magazine to a newspaper in the same day. And, along with everything else, I like options with my food as well. This fruit and nut granola bar recipe, gives you full freedom with whatever dried fruits, nuts, seeds, or sweeteners you so choose. You don’t even have to keep them in bar form if you don’t want to. I often crumble them up into yogurt as granola. The point is, you have options with these bars; embrace them!
I had the best day yesterday. I went on a hiking trip with my favorite Maine girl, Emily, and a backpack stocked with these bars. The sky was clear and the temperature perfect. It was the ideal day to climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine. We backpacked in to Chimney Pond (see the picture below) the night before so that we could get an early start. The camp site
is argued to be the most beautiful East of the Rockies. I’ve been there three times and couldn’t agree more. Our morning started with a boulder scramble up the Cathedral Trail to reach Baxter Peak, transitioned to carefully orchestrated traverse across the Knife’s Edge to Pamola Peak, and ended with a butt-scooting, rock hopping descent on the Dudley Trail, which has made walking down stairs a laborious task today. These energy dense, fruit and nut granola bars fueled me through this trip. I’m going on another hike this Sunday and know that I have to make another batch before then.
Dried fruit is probably one of the worst types of food for your teeth. It’s naturally high in sugar, and its gummy texture makes it a prime substance to latch onto the surface of your tooth and hang out there for a while. The sticky sugar gives the bacteria in your oral cavity easy access to an energy supply, which is conveniently located on a surface prone to cavities, your teeth! If I’m eating something particularly sticky (like the Nutrageous bar I bought after the hike), I try to remove the stickiness as soon as I’m done eating, whether by drinking water, trying to up-root the lodged piece with my tongue, or by brushing my teeth if necessary.
Fruit and Nut Granola Bars
Yield: 8-12 granola bars, depending how big you like them (8 for me)!
1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup oat flour or almond flour
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like your granola bars
1 cup nuts and/or seeds (I used sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and pecans)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried fruit (I used dried apricots and raisins)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup nut butter (I used this chunky maple peanut butter)
1/4 liquid sweetner (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar)
Combine all the the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the coconut oil through liquid sweetener. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until everything is easily coated. Line a 7×11 baking pan (you can alternatively use an 8×8, but I found that the 7×11 left them a little chewier, but both pans yield delicious results) with parchment paper and dump in the granola mixture. Spray the back of a spatula with cooking spray, and, with all of your weight, press the spatula into the granola mixture, smooshing the contents so that the baking pan is evenly covered. The more muscle you put into squishing your granola bars, the easier they will be to cut and the less likely they will be to fall apart when they’re done baking. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 350˚F. Let cool before cutting into bars.
Note: These freeze really well (and taste great straight from the freezer) so make a big batch and always have some on hand.
Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen