Saturday, January 30, 2010

Breakfast and Snack Bars-Your Way

I didn't intend to cook this much when my kids were so young and I worked full time. But the reality is that food is expensive these days, and the additives in packaged food add up. So, instead of leaning on the convenience of, say, granola bars, I decided to make my own. I actually first heard about this recipe on NPR when Nigella Lawson was discussing her book, Nigella Express. I never bought the book, but I have made these breakfast bars more times than I can count. This is a great recipe. It is incredibly flexible, so it can be tailored for anyone's tastes or, like in our case, food allergies. The bars lasts well and are just the perfect snack or breakfast. And, as always, the bars have far less salt or sugar (and are less costly) than the store-bought verison. Store them in an air-tight container and they will last until you have eaten them up.

One piece of advice, it can be really hard to find unsweetened coconut but they do have one brand at Whole Foods.

1 14-fl-oz can non or low-fat condensed milk (not evaporated)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup dried fruit--cranberries, raisins, chopped apricots and/or apples

1 cup seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and/or sesame)

1 cup nuts---optional. I have used roasted, unsalted almonds, though she recommends unsalted peanuts.

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and oil a 9- x 13-inch baking pan or just use a disposable aluminum foil one.

2. Warm the condensed milk in microwaveable safe bowl for 1 minute in the microwave.

3. Add all the other ingredients and mix, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute.

4. Spread the mixture into the oiled or foil pan and press down with a spatula to make the surface even.

5. Bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down, to make 16 chunky bars. Let cool completely.

Makes 16

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