Some time ago I was at the grocery store, checking things off my list as I put them in my cart, and I got to "Granola Bars" on my list. I made my way to the aisle, you know the one, with the cookies, fruit snacks, crackers, and granola bars. Being a creature of habit, I reached for the same brand of granola bars I purchased every week (or every few weeks if they had been on sale and I had stocked up!) and as I was putting them in my cart, I thought to myself I must be able to make these at home for less $$... (the brand I usually got was about $0.65 per bar if you divide the cost of the hole box).
So I did some searching and came up with a variety of flavors of home made granola bars (by using gluten free oats, it is soooo easy to make gluten free granola bars!)
Here is the basic recipe I start off with: 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 c. gluten free oats, 1/2 c. nuts (for this recipe I used chopped walnuts), 1 c. dried fruit (I used cranberries and blueberries), 2 t. cinnamon.
(working on my food photography and photo editing)
Step one in making these yummy snacks is to pre heat the oven to 350 degrees and get a small bowl of hot water (not boiling, just hot, like from the kitchen faucet). Put the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk into the bowl of hot water while you are measuring and mixing your other ingredients - trust me doing this first will make your life in a few minutes soooo much easier!
While the hot water is warming the sweetened condensed milk, mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl. This recipe is extremely flexible. It works best if the total amount of dry ingredients is between 3 1/2 to 4 cups. I always start with the 2 cups of GF oats and add some nuts and dried berries. Today I did 1/2 c chopped walnuts, 1/2 c dried blueberries and 1/2 dried cranberries, but you can really mix it up here! I also like to add a little cinnamon to the mixture, it brings out the flavor of the dried fruit.
Once all your dry ingredients are added, remove the can of sweetened condensed milk from the hot water, open and pour over dry ingredients.
The hot water will have warmed the milk so that it is easier to pour out easily!
Mix well with a spoon.
When the ingredients are well mixed ( there should be no dry pockets of oats left in the mixture) plop the mix onto a cookie pan lined with parchment paper. I have a little cookie pan that works perfect for granola bars.
Using a spoon or your fingers, lightly press the mix into the pan, spreading it evenly. The bigger the pan you use, the thinner your granola bars will be. I like mine kind of a medium thickness.
Ready for the oven!
I like my granola bars a little on the gooey side, so I bake them for 25 min at 350 degrees. If you like them a little more crunchy, you can leave them in for another 10 min, just watch that the top doesn't start to burn.
After your remove the granola bars from the oven, flip them over onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment paper. Let them cool for about 10 min on the cutting board before cutting them.
I have found that the easiest way to cut these into bar size is by using a pizza cutter!
And there you have it, home made granola bars!
I like to wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap, that way it is easy to grab one to toss into a lunch box or purse. You can add whatever kinds of nuts or dried fruit you like. Sometimes I melt 3 T of peanut butter and mix it in when adding the sweetened condensed milk. You could even add chocolate chips :)
Let me know if you have a favorite "flavor" of granola bars. I am always looking for new flavor combinations!