Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homemade Nuts & Honey Crunchy Granola Bars

Here's my new recipe for crunchy granola. I absolutely love Nature's Valley Oats & Honey Granola & Pecan Granola Bars but they're definitely not cheap enough to eat as quickly as I do! I love crumbling them and sprinkling it on yogurt- my recipe allows you to cut them into whatever shape you desire or use to top yogurt, oatmeal, or when baking. In fact crumbling the granola on top of my second recipe Lemon Ginger Banana Bread before popping the pan into the oven to bake will create a healthy crumble on top without all the sugar in a traditional crumble. I will post the recipe for Lemon Ginger Banana Bread subsequent article- just click the link! 

Make sure to check out the energetics of the granola after the recipe!
Nuts & Honey Crunchy Granola Bars
Dry Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup each assorted nuts* (I used raw sliced almond, raw pecan bits, raw walnut pieces, raw pistachios
1 cup assorted seeds* (I used salted sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, raw chia seeds)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup flax ground seed meal
1/3 cup dried fruit, assorted
1 tsp cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F 
  2. In a rimmed cookie sheet, spread out oats & raw nuts. Toast at 350°F for 10-15 minutes- do not stick pan under broiler. Make sure to watch carefully & stir about 2-3 times. When finished, let oats & nuts cool while prepping the other ingredients & bring oven to 300°F. 
      1. I began melting the other ingredients on the stove while turning the ingredients & noticed the smell of the nuts before they were finished.
      2. I strongly encourage you to use parchment paper with this recipe, but I did not use it while toasting, only when baking the granola. Whichever method, you want to make sure all ingredients are being toasted evenly. If you do use parchment paper, make sure to use a second, new piece when baking the granola.
  1. In a large metal or glass bowl, combine honey, coconut oil, & peanut butter. Using a double- boiler technique, melt ingredients until fully combined (The double-boiler technique is explained below**). Once melted, remove from heat & add both extracts to honey-coconut oil- peanut butter. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients almond meal, flax meal, dried fruit, seeds, & cinnamon together. Next, add the cooled toasted oats & nuts to the mixture.
  3. Add the dry ingredient mixture of oats, nuts, seeds, meal, & cinnamon to the wet ingredients mixture in the large bowl using a spatula. Make sure the wet ingredient mixture coats all of the dry ingredients & is mixed thoroughly. 
  4. Use parchment paper to line the inside of your cookie sheet making sure to use a piece big enough that it covers the ridge of the pan. Place granola mixture onto the parchment paper, using the spatula to spread the granola around. When evenly distributed, press the granola firmly until compact & firm. Bake 300°F for around 20 or until done. Granola should be golden & fragrant.
      1.  I originally baked at 350°F but think that it the temperature should have been lowered to 300°F. It should cook enough to set & bind the ingredients together without burning the mixture.
  1.  Cool pan on wire rack or after a few minutes to let set, lift parchment paper out of pan so that granola does not continue to cook. Using a dough cutter, pizza cutter, or knife to cut granola into bars of desired size. 
Happy eating!
All in all, this recipe is full of protein, mildly sweet, alkalizing, & neutral in temperature. It is loaded with good fats that will be converted to energy, not stored as fat in the body, while helping to de-stress, repair, & fight cancer! Multiple ingredients help to stabilize blood sugar while being loaded with amino acids, de-stressors that help to relax & support the body especially the nervous & digestive systems. A great way to start off you day or to eat when you need a pick-me-up!
* I used mostly raw nuts so that I could control the amount of salt, freshness, and prevent the nuts from toasting too much, for these reasons as well as salt content. I used only salted sunflower seeds & would not risk using more than one salted ingredient. If you choose to use only raw, make sure to incorporate 1/2 tsp sea salt to bring out the sweetness of the other ingredients.
** Link for the double boiler technique. I used a metal mixing bowl that fit inside a large pot & then once it cooled, stirred the dry ingredients in to save on dirty dishes
Energetics of Dish
rolled oats: considered acidic, they contain 13%protein & also niacin. Oats are blood & Qi tonics that act upon kidney, stomach, heart, lung, & large intestine. It supports Qi or energy circulation throughout the body. Oats impart warmth &stamina because of its high fat content (unsaturated-good fats). Because they are an adaptogen, they will improve a person's resistance to stress & this support a healthy state of balance. They help to stabilize blood sugar, regulate thyroid, soothe the nervous system, reduce cravings for cigarettes, & reduce cholesterol. High in protein & amino acids as well. Oats are extremely heart healthy & help to reduce bad cholesterol. 
coconut oil: exceptionally healthy fat for all (one of two vegetable oils safe to use when cooking because it won’t turn rancid when heated, the other oil being palm oil), contains lauric acid which enhances brain function & the immune system. Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial, & antifungal. Its low in calories than most fats & oils- it is more than 50% medium-chain fatty acids (the kind that are not stored as fats but turned into energy)
Nuts: Each type of nut has unique energetic properties. In general, most nuts are alkaline & are wonderful sources of protein & good healthy fats that the body needs. Some specifics: almonds contain 19% protein, mostly unsaturated fat (the good kind), exceptional source of vitamin E, rich in manganese, magnesium, & riboflavin. Energetically, they restore, tone, & nurture our bodies. They are the only nut that alkalinize an overly acidic body pH. Almonds give a  overall sense of wellbeing, have strong medicinal properties such as cancer-fighting & cancer-prevention. It’s phytonutrient & phytosterol, & has cholesterol lowering properties. Almonds are used to treat dry coughs (not productive, mucus coughs), relieve constipation, kidney stones, & gallstones. In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional Indian medicine which is a cousin of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)), almonds are used to build mental & spiritual endurance, helps strengthen bones, nerves, & reproductive system. Now you know why the recipe contains raw sliced almonds, extract, & almond meal!
Cinnamon: A sweet & very warming herb, cinnamon is a Qi tonic, supports yang which in turn supports the spleen, lung, kidney, heart, & uterus. It is a stimulant, analgesic, & has astringent properties. Cinnamon can increase digestive fluid secretions & therefore eliminate intestinal gas. It raises vitality within the body & so supports other vital functions of the body- circulation, especially peripheral circulation of the blood in the limbs. The reason for this is that cinnamon has an outward movement in the body & so literally pushes blood towards the limbs, dilates the vascular system, & moves the Qi or energy throughout the body. It is very warming or hot & so a little goes a long way.  Its useful for treating diarrhea, nausea, & vomiting, flu, common cold, arthritis, menstrual cramps, rheumatism, & candidiasis. Cinnamon relieves tension & helps to steady nerves. It reduces cancer causing tendencies of many food additives, relieves general indigestion, yeast infections, & athletes foods.
Honey: Raw honey is very powerful & considered a Chinese herb. Raw honey is pungent/acrid & neutral temperature (meaning it does not heat or cool the body). It helps to relieve dry cough, has laxative properties & so relieves constipation, stomachaches, sinusitis & other allergies (thats why its so important to by local honey to help treat your allergies), helps with mouth canker sores, burns, hypertension, pulmonary tuberculosis, heart disease, & liver disease. It moistens dryness, relieves pain, & helps reduce toxicity in the body. Energetically, honey acts upon the stomach, spleen, & lungs. It notifies, soothes, & nourishes. Honey has a more complex flavor than white sugar. Honey is alkaline & warming & sweetening. It is a favorite of mine in cooking because it has many nutrients, enzymes, & minerals whereas sugar is largely devoid of nutrients.