Nut-free granola bars

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

My wee tot isn’t excited about eating anything. She likes cheese and grapes. And then she doesn’t like cheese or grapes and only eats pasta. Then she turns her nose up at pasta and only wants oranges. This makes packing a little lunch challenging when we hit the preschool. Add to that the kiddy-school being nut-free (and meat-free) and I’ve got a challenge figuring out what to make for the babe.

I’ve discovered that the tot likes raisins, and she will tolerate toasted o-shaped cereal (you know, Cheerios), and oats have good healthy protein – AND, you know how I love the wonders and taste of quinoa, which is uber-packed with protein, so I set my sights on concocting some sort of granola bar with all those lovely items.

Now if you are looking for a super-sweet gooey granola bar, this isn’t for you. If you want a crisp and light granola bar, then these are perfect. You can also add and change to create the best granola bar for your family. My daughter couldn’t get enough of these, and she enjoyed them all last week at school. This means, unlike grapes, cheese, pasta, and peas, these granola bars lasted the test of time, which makes them a winner!

What you need

2 cups Cheerios

3 cups oats

1 cup cooked and toasted quinoa (don’t freak out, I’ll explain what I’m talking about in a moment)

1/2 cup raisins

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons honey

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 small pear (or apple) peeled and chopped fine

9 by 12 inch sheet pan

 

What you do

Start by boiling up your quinoa. Follow the directions on the package for making 1 cup of cooked quinoa. It only takes a couple of minutes and then you’re ready for the next step.

Once your quinoa is cooked through, evenly spread it on a lightly greased sheet pan and place it under the broiler. Don’t go away – keep an eye on those little buggers. Within a minute or so, you can use a spatula to gently turn and move about the quinoa so it is evenly toasted. Once your quinoa is a golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool. You can also set that oven to 350 Fahrenheit so it’s ready to go when you are.

In a big bowl, add the Cheerios, oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar. Mix everything up so there aren’t any big chunks. Go ahead and mix in the toasted quinoa, too.

Now you can add the oil, honey, egg, and vanilla. Really mix those ingredients together and then add the raisins. If your kids aren’t big on raisins, you can add any dried fruit they are into, like cranberries, chopped apricots, pineapple, prunes…..

I also happened to have a nice small pear ready to be eaten, so peeled it, chopped into a small dice, and added to the mix. A small apple would work great, too!

Remember that sheet pan you used to toast the quinoa? Get that back out, coat with oil, and then press your granola mix evenly about the pan.

Toss those granola bars in the oven and let cook for about 30 minutes. If the top is just starting to brown, they are ready to take out. If you want them to be a bit more toasty, let them cook an additional 10 to 15-minutes.

Use a knife, or pizza cutter, to cut the bars while they are warm and in the pan. If you don’t cut them now, you’ll have a big 9 by 12-inch granola bar on your hands.

I attempted to let the bars cool before eating, but the wee tot was ready to taste test. We all enjoyed several bars before I was able to get them into a nice sealed container to save for later.

Enjoy!

 

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