Tropical Granola Bars

Here is a recipe for the granola bars I made for my packed lunches this week. Every couple weeks I experiment with new flavours of granola bars, and this week I had pineapple on hand.

This is a snack to bring a little bit of tropical sunshine during these cold winter days.  

2 tbsp chia seeds
juice from one small orange (about 1/4 cup)
1-2 bananas, over-ripe (I used 2 medium-sized bananas)
zest from one small orange
1/2 heaping cup pineapple, cut into small pieces
1/2 heaping cup shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 cups oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup protein powder (I used hemp powder)
1/4 cup wheat germ or all purpose flour

I preheated the oven to 350*F. In a small bowl I let the chia seeds soak in the orange juice for about 5 minutes. While I was waiting I mashed the bananas, then added the orange zest, pineapple, vanilla, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil. In a large bowl I combined the dry ingredients, then added them to the wet ingredients. The mixture should be moist but not wet, and firm but not dry. Add more oats or water as needed. I pressed the mixture into an 8×8 pan that was lined with parchment paper, and baked them for 35 minutes. I usually bake granola bars for 25 minutes, but these had more moisture, so they needed more time. The edges of the cooked batter were golden and when I touched the top, it was hard but slightly spongy.

I cut the granola bars into 10 pieces using a sharp knife after the pan cooled down completely. I stored them in the fridge so they would last longer. On the counter they would probably last 5-6 days.  In the fridge they can last over a week, maybe two weeks. They can be frozen too.

I bet adding almonds and swapping almond extract for vanilla would be quite scrumptious.

My dad spread cream cheese on top and ate them for dessert.


Carrot Cake Granola Bars

As summer comes to an end, and with a new school year about to begin, I am packing my things in Calgary to head back to Ottawa to start my Masters in Counselling Psychology. It has been one of the best summers ever, and in fact, one of the best years ever; I went to pastry school, worked in two bakeries (pies for four months, and bagels for four months), traveled around Argentina, and got to explore the beautiful west side of Canada. Taking a year off was such a great decision, and even though I am definitely not done with traveling, baking, or Western Canada, I am about to put these things on hold for two years. One adventure ends and another begins! 

Tom and I took 12 days to road trip from Calgary to Vancouver and back, stopping in Kelowna, Penticton, Vancouver, Squamish, and the Radium Hot Springs. We camped, wine toured, biked, swam, climbed, hiked, and visited with some very special friends: Keegan, Barah, Amanda, Barbara, Chuck, and Corinne. Definitely a wonderful way to end the summer. 

Before leaving for our trip, I made Vegan Carrot Cake Granola Bars to munch on on the road. 

2 cups quick or minute oats
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp ground flax seeds, mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegan margarine, or melted coconut oil
Optional: raisins, walnuts, hemp seeds

I mixed everything together in a bowl (starting with the dry ingredients and carrots, then adding the wet ingredients), and pressed the mixture firmly into an 8 x 8 square pan, greased and lined with parchment paper. I baked the granola bars at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. I let the pan cool for about an hour, then cut them into 8 granola bars and wrapped them individually. 

They made a delicious snack for the road, and taste just like carrot cake! It is best to keep them refrigerated, but not necessary. It was sad when a couple of them got wet on our trip because our ice bags in the cooler leaked onto them. Tom pointed out that I like to mourn my food whenever it goes bad, and can’t throw it away right away. Eventually I accept that the food cannot be saved and throw it out. 

I really like making my own granola bars, as it is way cheaper than buying them from the store ($5 for 6 bars?!?!), and I have a lot more options for flavours (again with the peanut allergy limiting my options). I will definitely make this recipe again. 

Adios Calgary!