I’ve filed these granola bars under cookies and cakes in my recipe index.
noun cook·ie \ ˈku̇-kē \
cookie : a small flat or slightly raised cake
These are cookies. Bar cookies to be more precise. Unlike Big Food I will not market these as energy bars, meal replacements, protein bars, nutrition bars and on and on. However, I can honestly tell you that they taste delicious (maybe a little too delicious!).
I came home from work one night last week and found that my daughter Charlotte had made these. They taste sweet, salty and nutty and have a nice dense, slightly chewy texture.
Charlotte found a granola recipe online but altered it so much—we lacked several ingredients but had others—that she came up with something new. I call this type of cooking “freestyle cooking.” You start with a basic recipe and then improvise and substitute ingredients based on what you have on hand. Cooking this way, you waste less food, you often make delicious discoveries and you sometimes come up with new favorites. Occasionally you make cook a dud, but c’est la vie.
Benefits of Reducing Your Waste
I have to add “your kids learn how to do stuff” to the list of benefits to reducing your waste, which include:
- You save money. Although I buy the highest quality—and not inexpensive—ingredients, I spend less money than I used to on food because I don’t waste anything, I eat lower on the food chain than I used to and I don’t eat processed food. Processed food is not cheap—in the financial sense, not the quality sense.
- You eat more delicious food. Wonder bread cannot compare in taste to bread you bake yourself or a loaf of fresh bread you buy loose from the bakery in your cloth bag.
- You eat healthier food. When you cut the waste, you cut the shiny packages wrapped around food-like substances such as those energy bars, meal replacements, protein bars and nutrition bars and also cereal, frozen entrées, juice, crackers, cookies… You’ll start to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and other whole foods.
- You may lose weight. See above.
- You improve your health. Ditto.
- You have more fun. Picture shopping at the farmers’ market versus shopping at Walmart for groceries. I know which one I would choose. Cutting your waste also means you will live your life more consciously and for me, that means living life with more joy as well.
- You may improve your sex life.* By reducing your waste, you reduce your consumption and simplify your life. You spend less time buying stuff and taking care of stuff. You need less money, so you can (hopefully) work less. You free up more time for the people you love—including your partner—and improve your relationships. So, yes, reducing your waste can improve your sex life.
- Your kids learn how to do stuff. My kids know that if they want cookies, they have to make cookies (or wait for me to make them, which will likely be a long wait). Cookies are the gateway food that motivates children to learn to cook—that’s how it worked with mine at least. First they figure out how to make cookies, then they move on to bread and before you know it, they can make dinner.
*results may vary
And now for the recipe. You can easily vary the following ingredients. Just be sure to taste as you go if you include substitutions.
Charlotte’s Granola Bars
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanut butter
- 1/3 cup honey (vegans, use maple syrup or brown rice syrup)
- 1 egg replacement: combine 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon oil and 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup seeds of whatever type you have on hand (C used pumpkin and flax seeds)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or pieces
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- sunflower seeds to press into top
1. With a mixer, beat together wet ingredients: peanut butter, honey or maple syrup, egg replacement, coconut oil, vanilla extract.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
4. Put mixture into a greased 13 x 9” baking dish. Press down into pan until flat and relatively even. Sprinkle with ample sunflower seeds and press firmly into the granola mixture.
5. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until golden.
6. Allow to cool. Cut into bars. Store in a glass jar or container.
1. I buy unsalted peanut butter that contains only peanuts.
2. Charlotte made these with an egg replacement. They tasted so delicious the way she made them and had such a nice texture that I have left eggs out of the recipe.