Gluten Free Tuesday

Delicious, no-compromise recipes for those who need to live a gluten-free lifestyle, but don't want it to taste like it.

Gluten-Free Tuesday: Chewy Granola Bars

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Chewy Gluten-Free Granola Bars. [Photograph: Elizabeth Barbone]

You know those crazy dietary promises you make to yourself as a kid? Like, "When I grow up, I'll eat frosting straight from the can whenever I want!" And then you grow up and forget all about them. Well, I once made such a promise to myself about Quaker's Chewy Granola Bars...and I didn't forget.

The reason for the promise? My mom used to buy the bars, believing they were healthy (ha!). Then one day she ate one. "This is a candy bar!" she said after one bite. Duh—why did she think I loved them? From that moment on, the days of Chewy bars as a snack were over. I promised myself that when I grew up, I'd buy them whenever I felt like it.

And you know what? I held true to it. Or I did, until I started my gluten-free diet and Chewy Granola Bars were, once again, out. I tried making gluten-free versions, and while the base of oatmeal and crispy rice wasn't difficult, the texture tripped me up. I wanted the bars to be, well, chewy. I tried honey. I tried a homemade sugar syrup. I even tried baking the bars. But the bars either fell apart, were too hard, or were just plain off.

Until now.

I have finally nailed a copycat version of Chewy bars. The secret to that elusive chew? Marshmallows.

But marshmallows alone don't achieve the right flavor. A quick scan of the ingredients on the Quaker box reveals that there's brown sugar in the originals. So I balanced the marshmallow with some brown sugar, and now they're perfect.

Plus, these bars are ridiculously easy to make. If you've ever made a batch of crispy bars, you already know everything you need to about making this recipe. You simply melt some butter (or coconut oil, if you don't eat dairy) with brown sugar. Then melt in the marshmallows and stir in some gluten-free oats, crispy rice cereal, and—if you're feeling crazy—nuts and chocolate chips. That's it! You can make a batch of these in less than 15 minutes (not including the somewhat painful 2 hours of waiting for them to set in the refrigerator).

If you're wondering if these bars are too sweet with the marshmallows and brown sugar, just remember what my mother said: They're basically candy bars. And they're wonderful.

About the author: Elizabeth Barbone of GlutenFreeBaking.com joins us every Tuesday with a new gluten-free recipe. She is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking. and "How to Cook Gluten-Free".

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