Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why Bother? 2012 - Granola Bars

Yes, the Why Bother challenge has spilled over into the new year!  I'm finally over a long bout of bronchitis and have drained nearly all of the congestion from my head.  Nobody is happier than I am, except maybe the hundred or so people I share my train car with.  No more loud coughing from me!  So many of my friends and family have been battling with some virus, bacterium or other, this season.  And after a month of being sick, I'm happy to count myself among the healthy again.
With the bronchitis I was battling, I had to push of the last few challenges of the Why Bother? challenge.  This January we will complete the challenges with granola bars, crackers and soft cheeses.  I'm excited to finish all of the challenges that you gave me over a year ago, so let's get started with snacks!

Most foodie friends that I know are highly unlikely to venture down the cereal bar aisle in the grocery store.  You bakers out there probably have your own go to recipe for granola bars, perfected after many tries in the kitchen with different grains, nuts and dried fruits. 


I want everyone else out there to have a go at the bar.  Or in this case, the cup!  I love making granola bars at home.  They change every time I make them, depending on what I have in my kitchen.  Sometimes they are heavy on the nuts, sometimes I have an odd assortment of dried fruits.  You should feel free to adapt each granola bar recipe in the same way.

Today I bring you a baked granola bar recipe (Saturday we'll have a no-bake variant) that combines some of my favorite flavors.  Peanut butter, cherry and oats.  It's like a PB&J sandwich!  Don't have any dried cherries in the house?  Substitute the dried fruits for whatever you have lying around!

Granola Bar Muffins
Adapted from Snack Girl

This recipe was given to me (via my mom) from a fitness fanatic.  She loved that these bars are low in calories, high in protein and packs major flavor.  With no added sugar, these bars are great to feed your kiddos or yourself!

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed dried berries (mine included raspberry, cherry, cranberry & blueberry)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mix peanut butter and mashed bananas with a fork.  Add nuts, dried fruits, oats and vanilla.  Stir until it all comes together.  Scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup and lightly press into the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove granola cups from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
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