Grrreat Granola Bars
Homemade granola bars are easy to make, freezer friendly, and adaptable to whatever ingredients you want to use. Fact is the choices and combinations of ingredients for a granola bar can be endless and dog gone healthy depending on the ingredients chosen. You can check my lists of Healthy Ingredients and Safe Herbs & Spices to create your own granola bars geared to your pupster.
According to Calorie Count each bar contains 95 calories with 36 calories from fat if divided into 35 squares. Don't let that scare you because they are packed with protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. To lower the calorie content, cut them into smaller bars and feed sparingly. Sedentary dogs should have less while active dogs can indulge a little more. They would be perfect for hiking, a day at the lake, or agility practice.
These are really chewy which Kirby enjoyed, however I would recommend having a big bowl of water handy as he took a few trips to his water fountain. The blackstrap molasses imparts a bittersweet flavor Kirby likes. You can use honey, agave, or maple syrup for a sweeter taste. Add a dollop of plain greek yogurt for some probiotic goodness.
- 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 cup (6 oz) shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 cup ground flax seed
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/3 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil leaving a bit of the foil hanging over the edges of the pan to create a 'sling' so you can lift the granola out of the pan once baked. Do not use wax paper which I found the hard way will stick to the granola. Spray the foil with olive oil or a non-stick cooking spray.
3. Finely chop the almonds with 1/2 cup of the oats.
4. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together in a large bowl and then spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
5. Transfer this mixture back to the mixing bowl and stir in the flax seed, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
6. Add the dried fruit. I used cranberries, cherries, and blueberries. I also chopped the fruit into smaller pieces based on Kirby's preference.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
8. Place the coconut oil, molasses, peanut butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat constantly stirring. Cook for about a minute and then slowly pour it over the toasted oatmeal mixture.
9. Now you need to mix it all together until it's completely coated. Using the side of a large stiff rubber spatula cut through the mix over and over while rotating the bowl. This breaks up all the clumps of moistened ingredients so that any remaining dry ingredients can be incorporated.
10. Spoon into the prepared pan. Oil or wet your hands and press the mixture down firmly.
11. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes until light golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and press down using a spatula. They’ll seem like they are too soft but they will set once completely cooled.
13. Let them cool for about 20 minutes then remove from the pan using the foil sling as handles. Gently cut the bars or squares with a very sharp knife but don't separate them until them are fully cooled which will take 2 to 3 hours. If the bars seem crumbly, chilling them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes sometimes helps set the “glue”.
Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap as soon as possible so they don’t dry out and crumble. They will keep in the fridge or at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can place the wrapped bars in a large freezer bag and freeze. They will thaw within an hour or so. I’m not sure how long they will keep in the freezer but I would think several months.
Overall, the bars stayed together. I stored the crumbly bits in an airtight container in the fridge to toss over his dinners.
I couldn't help but smile at the story behind this next picture. I was posing and taking pictures of Kirby with the finished granola bar when he started eating it. I have to confess I enjoyed a few myself so we may be sharing.