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Gluten-Free Snack Challenge: Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

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Penny Pinching Epicure: Gluten-Free Snack Challenge: Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gluten-Free Snack Challenge: Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

I've been craving granola bars recently. I've tried some of the prepackaged gluten-free variety, but I'm not so much a fan of toasted cardboard. In fact, there are very few prepackaged gluten and dairy free items I really like.

So I decided to make my own granola bars. I scoured the internet; I must have looked at over 100 recipes, studying the varying techniques and trying to figure out how to make the best gluten free and dairy free granola bars possible.

A few notes:
  • I read in a number of places that it's better to use thick-cut oats, otherwise they tend to melt away and get mushy.
  • It took me a number of tries to get this right; granola bars are like cookies in that they continue to bake even after you remove them from the oven, so beware not to overbake (I did with my first couple of batches). The top of the bars should be firm but still a little spongy, the oats toasted a crispy but not too brown.
  • I opted for a home-made version of store-bought granola bars I used to love (toasted oats with cranberries and almonds), but you can mix and match as much as you'd like with grains, seeds, nuts and dried fruit.

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

Ingredients:

2 cups thick-cut oats
1/2 cup rice bran
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup almond pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
  1. Place oats and rice bran on a 9x13 inch baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Place honey, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in a saucepan. Heat over low flame until brown sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth.
  3. Remove oats from oven and immediately add to sugar mixture along with almonds and cranberries. Stir until everything is well coated.
  4. Pour oat mixture into 9 x 13 inch greased baking pan, pressing firmly to compress (I stuck my hand inside a ziploc bag to keep the oats from sticking to me).
  5. Reduce over temperature to 300 degrees; bake for 6-8 minutes (do not overbake, see note above).
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, then cut into squares or whatever size granola bars you prefer.
The cost:
oats: 2.99
rice bran: 2.99
almonds: .65
cranberries: .45

Grand total: $7.08; makes 16ish servings (that's only .44 per bar!)

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