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the haas machine: Nutty Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Nutty Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Summer is a time for lengthy afternoon swimming & lazy BBQ-ing & ice cold sun tea-ing & long after-dinner walking. It's a time for late nights out on the patio because it's still light outside. It's a time to play in your yard with your kid(s) & enjoy all of the mysteries of childhood ("mama! a bee!!!") Summer is hardly a time to be slaving away in the kitchen.

I'm not a big heat person. I know you're surprised since I grew up in northern Minnesota, but I'm more comfortable with cold. I know how to dress in layers & I guess I'm just used to packing with extra jackets "just in case." My mom always baked something (or at the very least, would turn on the oven to warm the house) on exceptionally chilly mornings, so I think I've just followed that routine. I know how to tolerate long, cold winters because it's in my blood.

What I don't know how to live through is the heat. In fact, since moving to La Crosse almost 4 years ago, this was the first house that I've lived in that has air conditioning & it's not even central air... it's one window unit in our bedroom. 

So in the summer, when things get incredibly hot/humid/moist (yep, I said it), I want to be anywhere but in the kitchen. I'm actually compiling a list of my favorite non-cooking dinners to rotate through in the summer so that this summer can be spent where we belong-- outside! 

(Please comment below with any of your favorite summer meals!)

Although these granola bars may not exactly be dinner worthy, they most definitely are snack worthy. We are big snackers & I'm fine with that as long as we are filling our tummies with healthy, wholesome foods. For some time I've been making our own granola bars because I am picky, cheap, & don't like the majority of ingredients in the majority of granola bars we can afford. Plus, I hate individually wrapped things (what a waste!)

All that said, this is the recipe that I've been using for the past couple of years. It's incredible, BUT it was still way too sweet. I mean it's delicious, don't get me wrong, but the line between snack & dessert was being breached a little too much for me. Plus, I still wasn't a fan of all the ingredients even after I swapped the brown sugar for demerara & the karo syrup for honey (rice krispies have high fructose corn syrup in them... whaaaat?!)

So when my friend Lindsay over at The Live-In Kitchen posted this recipe, I knew I had found a winner. I love that there are only 7 ingredients in the recipe, that it is so simple & quick to make & that it is entirely satisfying. All of the nuts make for some serious satisfaction & the small amount of chocolate chips helps me ride the wave of chocolate bliss without coming down crashing into a crabby mess. 

And am I the last person on earth to make things with dates & like them?! I feel like I've avoided all things with dates in them because I thought I hated them. I guess I may have to revisit some other recipes I've poo-pooed in the past, but don't think I'll be trying those nasty date-filled cookies anytime soon. That's just a little too fast too soon.

Nutty Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup packed dates, pitted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
1/4 cup  chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the oats evenly on a baking sheet & toast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly golden brown. When they are golden, transfer them to a medium bowl.

Place the almonds & cashews in a food processor & pulse a few times until roughly chopped. Add nuts to the bowl with the oats.

Place the dates in the food processor & process until well-chopped & dough-like (about 1 minute). Add the dates to the bowl with the nuts & oats.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the maple syrup & peanut butter. Once it's well combined & warm, pour it over the oat mixture. Mix thoroughly, breaking up the dates until thoroughly combined. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the chocolate chips (unless you like them to be melty). Line an 8x8 baking dish (or 9x13 if you don't want them to be so massively thick) with parchment paper & transfer the mix to the dish. Sprinkle a few more chocolate chips on top & press down with another piece of parchment until flattened. Transfer to the freezer for 10 minute to harden. Use the parchment to lift the bars out of the pan, then cut into 10 (more like 16 if using a 9x13) even bars.

Recipe taken from The Live-In Kitchen

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