Well five family votes have been tabulated. Here is the clear winner in my granola/energy bar making experiment from last week.
Chia seeds are one of my favorite stealth health ingredients. Also known asSalvia hispanica, it has a great nutritional profile and is flavor neutral. Unlike flax, it does not oxidize and you don’t have to grind it to reap its nutritional benefits. Keep your eyes out for chia as I predict you will be seeing it in many new product introductions this year.
Brown Rice Syrup is a low glycemic sweetener meaning that it is a great source of energy as it is released slowly into the body providing prolonged energy instead of a spike and crash which is what pure sucrose does. You could also use agave syrup and get similar results.
By all means try this recipe and when you feel comfortable, make up your own variations. Get your kids involved too!
These happen to be gluten-free but oats would be a logical addition. Just lower the amount of brown rice crisps by 1/2 a cup and add oats. As you get more comfortable making granola bars, try using sunflower butter, almond butter and even hazelnut butter. There is no limit to the combinations that you can create.
One final note: I use my food processor to get the dried fruits and nuts chopped. I start with the fruits and pulse it together, then add the nuts.
Chocolate Chip Cherry Yummy Bars
1 1/2 cups brown rice crisps
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup currants or raisins (I used currants because they are smaller)
3/4 cup chia seeds (or flax seeds)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown rice syrup (I like Lundberg’s)
Place all the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips into a bowl and mix with your hands until well blended. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan and spray lightly with a pan coating. Add the brown rice syrup and bring up almost to a boil. Add the peanut butter and stir well until evenly blended. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are well coated.
Now add the mini chips and quickly place onto prepared cookie sheet. Place another piece of parchment on top and roll or press with your hands until the mixture fits into the pan and is evenly distributed.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes to an hour. Using the parchment, lift the whole mixture out of the baking pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into your desired size. This recipe should make 12 bars depending on how big or small you make them.