My husband packs a pretty decent lunch for work:
- Sandwich consisting of lunch meat of choice, cheese and butter
- Pot filled with carrots, celery and lettuce (for the sandwich)
- Granny Smith Apple
- 8 tortilla chips
- a light cheese stick
- granola bar
In the midst of all of that good food, he does sneak in a snickers bar every once and a while, which totally ruins any good that’s happening with that lunch, but makes him very happy. As long as it isn’t every day, I’ve been letting it slide. 😉
Most of the food in the lunch pail is fresh, except for the chips and granola bar. These have been store bought and, as in the case of the granola bar, not really all that healthy. Hubby loves his chocolate, so we usually bought the Quaker Chocolate Dipps. They are just like a candy bar and while I tried to feel good about the fact that they had some oats in them somewhere, I wasn’t fooling myself. We noticed recently that they’ve also shrunk. They are much smaller than they used to be but cost the same. Shrinking sizes or changes in flavor always mean one thing: I’m on a quest to making my own.
So, I was quite happy when My Baking Addiction posted a gorgeous pic of some really yummy looking granola bars. They had tart cherries and dark chocolate in them and I was instantly sold. I followed her directions exactly, except for the fact that I couldn’t find wheat germ anywhere in my store. Then, when I got right down to it, I didn’t really know what wheat germ actually was. Did it look a bit like oats? Was it crushed? Whole? Powder? You’d think I’d have learned from my previous escapade into unknown ingredient territory to just suck it up and ask, but alas, I didn’t.
What I settled on was wheat bran. Why? Because it looked innocuous enough and it was still wheat. Right? Actually, I was right. It worked like a charm and you wouldn’t have even guessed that it was in the bar. 🙂
That badly taken pic is the Cherry and Dark Chocolate bar in the nifty new container I bought especially for it. The bars are chewy and you can taste all of the flavors without any one flavor overpowering another. Still, when I went to calculate the calorie count for one bar (the recipe made 16 and not the 24 that the recipe says it does), the number surprised me: over 250 calories! Gah! A snickers bar is better than that. So, I started tweaking it to lower the sugar levels and came up with version 2.0 that had about 30-40 calories less than the original.
I plan to do some more tweaking to get the numbers even lower, but I don’t want to mess too much with the density and chewy texture of the bar. I’m looking into doing some substituting for the oil and swapping some raisins for chopped dates. These bars are really good, though, and they don’t have that sweet aftertaste that the original cherry one had due to its lower sugar content.
Raisin Granola Bars with Milk and Dark Chocolate Chips
(Note: This recipe is adapted from My Baking Addiction’s original found here. All changes are in red. These also freeze really well. Just put them in a tupperware and you can pull one out as you need them. )
2 cups oats
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed Splenda brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat bran
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins, plumped (let sit in hot water for about 15 minutes)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat bran, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Make a well in the center.
- In a measuring cup, measure honey, egg, oil and vanilla and stir together. Pour into well in dry ingredients.
- Mix well with spoon, add in drained raisins, chocolate chips and almonds. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges.
- Cool on wire rack for about 15 minutes before cutting. Do not allow the bars to cool completely or they will crumble when you try to cut them.