Easy Granola Bars

 Our first year in Austin, we were awakened one early Saturday morning to “Eye of the Tiger” blaring outside.  After about ten minutes when it didn’t stop, we got dressed and went outside to find the source.  Much to our surprise, the music was accompanying the annual Austin marathon, and our house was just steps from mile 21!

That morning, Mr. Bread Maiden made the commitment to run the Austin marathon before we graduated.  And two years later, he did.

In the pocket of his running shorts, he packed the following granola bars.

Yes, this recipe really is that simple.  It’s quick too.

YOU WILL NEED:

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of any kind of flaked oats or grains (I like oats and maybe barley flakes)
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, figs, dates, currants, prunes, apricots, etc.)
2 cups nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, flax seeds)
1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (also optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.  Butter a large glass baking dish.  Set aside.

2. Combine the honey, brown sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until the brown sugar melts and it all mixes together.  Turn off the heat.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oats, dried fruit, seeds and nuts, and chocolate and mix together with the paddle attachment.

4. With the stand mixer stirring the granola, pour in the honey-brown sugar mixture.  The mixer should encounter some resistance.

5. When everything is mixed up, use a spatula to thunk it onto the baking dish, then smooth it out so it’s an even layer.  Take care to push it into the corners of the dish as well.

6.  Pop the dish into the oven and bake maybe 15-20 minutes until it’s a light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let it cool, then cut into squares, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze until you want to eat them.

The thing I like about this recipe is that it doesn’t call for corn syrup.  Yes, the corn syrup gives granola bars that nice, chewy consistency.  But I’d rather use natural, not-really-processed ingredients, wouldn’t you?  In any case, when we looked at the fancy goos and energy drinks touted to boost running performance, we were kinda grossed out.  These are much healthier, and you know every ingredient that went into these.  Because you made them yourself! 

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