These granola bars are like a dream come true. Everything I love, pecans, coconut and chocolate surrounded by healthful ingredients: chia seeds, coconut oil and wheat germ. Some of these ingredients might seem a bit expensive, but consider the cost of boxed granola bars, where you get only 6 skinny little bars that won’t taste anything even close to these naturally sweet, soft and chewy bars of perfection. Splurge…it’s January, after all. Make yourself happy…and healthy. Cindy Lazarenko
JANUARY BLISS BARS
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup wheat germ *
¼ cup chia seeds * and **
½ cup currants (or raisins)
½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts or almonds)
6 Tbsp coconut oil, extra virgin, cold processed * and ***
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp honey
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
¾ cup unsweetened coconut, shredded (I used “ribbon” coconut but not that easy to find)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9-inch baking pan with foil (or parchment) to extend over the sides. Grease foil. Mix oats, currants, pecans, wheat germ and chia seeds in a bowl. Combine coconut oil, sugar (I used Wholesome organic light brown sugar) and honey in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly (begins to boil). Pour mixture over oat mixture and stir until well coated. Transfer to prepared pan. Using spatula, press mixture evenly into pan. Bake oat mixture until top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate evenly over top. Let stand 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully spread chocolate to cover completely. Sprinkle with coconut. Let cool. Using large knife, cut into bars. Makes 18 beautiful bars.
* You can replace coconut oil with butter if you like. You can also replace the wheat germ and chia seeds with another ½ cup of oats.
** Chia seeds are found in most supermarkets these days in the “natural foods” section. They are most commonly sprinkled (whole or ground) into cereals, yogurts, smoothies, juices, soups, sauces, salads and dressings. I thought it was interesting that they can also be used as a gluten-free thickener or as a binding agent in baked goods. Rich in Omega-3, antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals, I say…why not, throw em in.
*** And just a word (or two) on coconut oil. I love it. Not only is it useful for cooking, but you can also apply it to the ends of your hair. Slather it on to your dry January skin, sauté with it (it does not break down with high heat) and it is a delicious and healthy substitute for regular oil when making stovetop popcorn, with no need to add butter after its popped (just good sea salt). Highly recommend.