Homemade Granola Bars

Don’t let the step-by-step instructions deter you. Mix it all together. Press in pan. Chill. It really is that easy.

Homemade Granola Bars

1 c packed Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 c honey (or sub maple syrup or agave for vegan option)
1/4 c your favorite nut butter

1 c slivered, unsalted almonds
1 1/2 c rolled oats (gluten-free if that’s your thing)
Optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, apple chips chips
Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency.
Note: if your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help them blend better and hold the bars together better. It shouldn’t be necessary if you find fresh, sticky moist dates.

Toast oats in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so, until slightly golden brown. Optional: skip toasting and just leave them raw.

Toast almonds in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so, until slightly golden brown. Optional: skip toasting and just leave them raw.

Place oats, almonds, and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.

Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.

Once thoroughly mixed (stir in any optional ingredients at this point), transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish which you’ve lined with parchment paper.

Press down firmly until uniformly flattened. Tip: use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.

Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove bars from pan (lifting carefully by lined parchment paper) and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days or in the freezer.

Notes

Caramel Pear Cookies

Caramel Pear Cookies

2 cups + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
12 Tbsp. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm
1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup caramel bits
1 pear, finely diced (about 1 cup)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Carefully stir in the caramel bits and diced pears until combined.

Use a small cookie scoop or a spoon to form the dough into tablespoon-fulls. Place on a cookie sheet at least 2.5 inches apart, and then dot on top with a few additional caramel bits. Bake cookies until the outer edges are golden and begin to slightly harden, about 15 minutes. Remove and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.

Banana Carrot Muffins

Banana Carrot Muffins
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
In a large bowl, combine first seven ingredients, flour through nutmeg. In another bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored. Beat in honey and orange peel. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the bananas, carrots and applesauce.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form; fold into batter a third at a time.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 9 jumbo muffins.