Learning How to Get to Nature Valley

DSCN0373I love granola bars. Love, love, love them. You can find them in my lunch bag as my 3:00 snack, my purse (to stave off the hungry and angry "Bear," that I become when I go shopping), and sometimes as a cereal substitute when I've run out of Cheerios. But stocking up on granola bars can get expensive (unless you're an Extreme Couponer. Seriously, I've been marathoning this show on Netflix, and I CANNOT get over how much these people save on their shopping trips. It's very tempting, but I have neither the time, nor the basement full of floor-to-ceiling shelving units it takes.). And while I'll never quit buying my Nature Valley bars cold turkey, I thought it best to at least give my wallet a rest, and learn to make them on my own for a while. Enter this recipe: Pumpkin Granola Bars. Maybe I chose this recipe because I  can't get enough of Pumpkin...Or maybe it's  because I had a can in the fridge with the perfect amount left...Who knows, it's a mystery of life! (It's because I had a can of pumpkin left. Mystery solved.)

DSCN0364About a month back, our grocery store was having a sale on those big bags of Domino Brown sugar that I couldn't pass up. And in the moment, I was too BLINDED BY A GOOD DEAL, to read the label, and picked up two bags of DARK Brown Sugar, instead of LIGHT Brown Sugar. But by the time I set to work on making these granola bars, and realized my mistake, I had neither the strength, nor desire to walk the 2 minutes back over to the grocery store to buy a box. And anyway, I think my local grocery store is starting to see a little too much of me. So, I decided to substitute dark brown sugar instead, and see what happened. Not bad, I gotta say it.

DSCN0374 DSCN0379It was really interesting to learn some of the elements that go into granola bars. I'm not exactly sure what I thought it was that was holding them together, but I didn't realize what a huge part honey plays. It's the glue that binds the whole operation together and without it, you've got mushy, uncooked oatmeal with pieces of fruit in it. Also interesting, this recipe called for 1/4 cup applesauce. It helps keep some of the moisture during baking, and it makes all the difference.

DSCN0386I liked that this recipe called for white chocolate chips for three reasons:

1. White chocolate chips were on sale today for $0.79

2. I don't think I've ever baked with white chocolate before.

3. I like white chocolate a lot. White Chocolate + Granola Mix= A really great idea!

And while the chocolate chip pieces melt away, their memory, and taste, are not forgotten. They add such a special sweetness to the mixture.

DSCN0389I could not stop eating this once it was finished. As a result, I don't really have granola "bars" per se, but instead granola "chunks" or granola "weirdly shaped, unevenly sized pieces." No regrets, it's not for sharing. The only person that will be appreciating this first batch is me, and my taste buds are in no way picky when it comes to presentation.

These granola bars are delicious, were easy to make, and now probably a new staple in my pantry. But bakers beware: this granola is addicting, so keep your wit's about you!

Give it a try!


What You'll Need:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (or try dark brown sugarIt made things a lot sweeter!)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

To Make:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet (9x9 is suggested, but I think my sheet is 9x11, and it turned out fine. Use what you have!) with foil allowing for 1 inch to hang on the sides of the pan. Spray foil with Pam, or another non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir until oats are moistened. Stir in the cranberries and white chocolate chips.

4. Evenly press oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Be sure not to under bake. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

5. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars. (Or just, eat it while you're impatiently waiting for it to cool, and make it into fun, unexpected shapes of granola like I did! Yeah!)

Source: Very minimally adapted from My Baking Addiction

Happy baking!

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