we.bite | chewy granola bars

TGIF! with such a short, choppy week behind us, i think we can all agree it’s nice to head into the weekend. i think being put into holiday mode midweek threw me for a loop (note my lack of posts!) especially since i took off for a super-mini vacay to balboa island. i LOVE it there, and could easily see myself living the island life. i hope you did something fun and relaxing with loved ones!

i didn’t want to leave you completely empty-handed (normally i’m stuffing some kind of craft or recipe in your face, begging you to do a weekend project, after all!) and today i have a perfect weekend project that will be a gift that keeps giving all the week long.

last week i met with my friend, leslie, who is an AMAZING photographer, to brainstorm and talk food (who am i kidding, of COURSE that was the real agenda there.) her food shots are absolutely gorgeous, and the coolest thing is the recipes are REAL and the food is all natural, as is the lighting. it’s a very organic process, and i’m SO excited to announce that she will be contributing to the blog for the next few weeks with original photos and recipes!

we’re going to kick it off with some gooey, chewy granola bars!

a bit from leslie about the recipe:

I’ve been very snacky lately. I want to eat everything in the cupboards but nothing is really satisfying my snack attack. I think I’ve been wanting chocolate, but not a whole chocolate bar, but I also want the sweetness of dried fruit, oh and something gooey.

I remember the summer after 8th grade at bible camp in Montana when our cabin had to spend ‘quality time’ with nature to reflect on the week’s lesson. We were getting packed up for a hike, but before we hit the trailhead we had to have some ‘quality bonding time’ with our cabin mates. Oh joy! (sarcastically). I thought it was going to be another one of those ‘trust your friend to catch you as you fall backwards’ game. But it wasn’t. Actually it was making our own gorp (aka trail mix). The kitchen staff set up a smorgasbord of nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate pieces. We went crazy grabbing handfuls of this and that and mixing who knows what with that. It was an interesting gorp to say the least.

I wanted to recreate that gorp but with more thought out decisions about what was going into it and making it easy to eat one handedly. I found Kristin’s recipe at her blog iowagirleats.com. It’s a fantastic, protein packed, got-to-have-another-without-feeling-guilty kind of granola bar.

Chewy Granola Bars:
Yield: 12-16 bars
Prep time: 15min., Cook time: 4 hours
Adapted from: iowagirleats.com

Note: (*) are my additions

1 Cup almonds (whole, half, or slivered)
1 Cup pecan or walnut roughly chopped
*1 ½ Cup any trail mix
*½ Cup chocolate chips
1 Cup old fashion oats (not instant)
1 Cup dried fruit (cherries, orange, craisins) roughly chopped
1 ¼ Cup plus 2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. coconut oil (or natural peanut butter with oil)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract (optional)
dash of cinnamon
* 8 oz. dark chocolate (optional)

photos and recipe by leslie grow, post by alex michael may

In the bowl of a food processor, add ½ Cup each of almonds, pecans, trail mix, chocolate chips, and oats. Process until fine (but not too long or it will turn into nut butter), then pour into a large bowl. Roughly chop the remaining pecans and almonds, then add to the bowl. Add remaining trail mix, oats, and dried fruit. Mix well and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine honey, coconut oil, salt, vanilla & almond extracts, and cinnamon over medium heat. Stir until mixture melts, then foams, the cook for 15 seconds longer (or even longer for harder bars). Pour over nut mixture and mix thoroughly to coat all the ingredients.
Line a baking pan or 8×8 pan with enough parchment paper to let it hang far over the sides, then our in granola. Press firmly with your hands or something with a flat bottom (may need to spray it with non-stick spray). Wrap the overhanging parchment paper up and over the sides. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.
OPTIONAL: Chocolate drizzled topping. Using a double broiler set-up, melt 8 oz. of any chocolate. Spoon and drizzle on top of bars. Refrigerate again until chocolate hardens.
Using a sharp knife, cut chilled granola into bars. Wrap individually in saran wrap and store in fridge or freezer.


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