"The result was a warm, sweet, 175-calorie snack halfway between a granola bar and an oatmeal cookie."
My friend Stacey is my travel buddy. Together, we've motored through most of the South and driven across a good chunk of Northern India. On these journeys, I've discovered a fundamental difference between the two of us: whereas I assume car food will materialize magically from the glove compartment, she always has the good sense to bring snacks. When there's 90 minutes between rest areas (I'm looking at you, Arkansas), it's a lifesaver.
This past weekend, I visited Stace in Massachusetts, and figured my time had finally come to say fair's fair; to be the prepared one. So, I made granola bars.
Here's the thing. Initially, most granola bar recipes seem healthy. They're full of dried fruit and nuts, and tend to have exciting ingredients like flaxseed and wheat fields. Upon further inspection, however, they can be stunningly high in calories and fat. It's great if you're going for an extended run, but not so good if you're going for an extended sit. Subsequently, my mission was to make a leaner granola bar without sacrificing the fun add-ons.
I began with Playground Granola Bars from All Recipes' and working off reviewer suggestions, reduced the brown sugar and swapped all-purpose for whole wheat flour. This cut some calories and upped the fiber quite a bit. Then, I used two egg whites instead of one whole egg, and substituted mashed banana for half the oil. These steps decreased the fat tremendously and added a pleasant banana undertone. Finally, I threw in a 1/4 cup of toasted, slivered almonds. Because, why not?
The result was a warm, sweet, 175-calorie snack halfway between a granola bar and an oatmeal cookie, plus an apartment that smelled like Yankee Candle. The bars traveled well on the bus, too. Needless to say, I'll be making more batches for future road trips. I owe Stace that much.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup unpacked light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup very mashed banana (about 1 medium)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease a 9x13 glass dish, and line it with parchment paper.
Toast the almonds in the oven or on the stovetop. Set aside to cool a bit.
In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, almonds, and salt. In a separate medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk honey, egg whites, oil, banana, and vanilla together until well combined. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the honey mixture into the well.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients with your hands until everything is moistened and mostly holding together in a loose ball. Flip the mixture onto the baking dish and pat into one giant rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into squares.