I won’t be posting this weekend.
So…I baked mid-week.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the recipe I’m about to share (gasp…yes, I did say share!).
Back story: For nearly 18 months, I’ve been on what I’ll call a “fitness journey”. This conscious effort to achieve health and wellness has made me very aware of the connection between what I put into my body and how my body feels. I am a devout follower of what I will call the religion of moderation. I will never follow a diet that calls for complete elimination of any type of food. When you strictly prohibit something, you want it even more. Hello?! I’ve been in the classroom long enough to know that that holds true whether you’re talking about food or human behavior. You want what you can’t have…ahhhhh….the human condition. We’re a tortured, twisted bunch, aren’t we?
Having said that, I will share that the more fit and healthy I become, the less I crave “bad” foods. I have begun to look for high quality foods that taste great AND provide nourishment. That nourishment may come in the form of what is truly good for the body, but at times, that nourishment also means indulging in what feels good in your soul. That’s why I haven’t stopped baking. I’d rather have 1 or 2 of the BEST cookies I can find (or make) and really indulge in the act of enjoying that moment than binge on something that is overly processed and made with low quality ingredients.
Like I said in my last post, take the time to find and prepare your food with the best quality ingredients you can afford. You will not regret this.
Why not start with granola bars? My recipe is one you can customize to your liking and it really is easy to make. I would recommend using a stand mixer if you have one, and if you don’t, use your hands. Trying to mix these bars with a spoon would ridiculous, so don’t do it. Give your hands a good wash and dig in!
Ok…so, here’s what you need to begin…
Granola Bars (I often call them Energy Bars)…a Pink Peppermint Exclusive!
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
2/3 c. packed brown sugar (I use dark brown)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. flour (I had white unbleached, but you could use whole wheat or any flour you have and use for baking — except self rising or cake flour)
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. honey (look for local honey — it also helps curb allergy symptoms)
1/4 c. vegetable or canola oil
1/4 c. applesauce
1 1/2 t. vanilla
Add ins: (My staples — but you could pick ANYTHING you love – look for dried fruits, nuts, other types of chocolate that you and your family enjoy.)
1/2 !c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. dried cranberries
*Like I said, the chocolate and cranberries are my thing…you can go for anything you like. Think about the ingredients you like in a store-bought granola bar and try adding those to the basic recipe above! If you are unsure about adding something, leave me a comment and I’ll help you figure it out!
The procedure is simple — preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a pan (9×9 or similar size) with foil or parchment — leave wings for easy lift out (makes for easier removal and cutting) and then spray with cooking spray.
Mix dry ingredients (including your chosen add ins), then add honey, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Once the mixture is well incorporated, press into pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool for 1 hour, then cut according to your preference.
When I’m done cutting, I wrap mine in plastic wrap and throw them in the fridge. I have no idea why, but I like mine chilled. When I’ve made them (this recipe makes 12 bars — depending, of course, on how you cut them), I always have 1 or 2 on me so that I never hit “headache hungry” and feel the urge to binge on food that won’t make me feel good.
If you try the granola bar recipe, let me know how it goes! If you try alternate add ins, let me know! I’m always looking for new flavor combos!
To close, find time this weekend to make something great. Slow down, think about ingredients, enjoy the process, and indulge in food that is BOTH great tasting AND good for your soul. Enjoy!