Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quick snacks

When you need a quick snack what do you eat?  If you're like me... you may skip "snacking" all together and fix yourself a full-blown meal. If the baby is napping and I have a chance to make myself an actual lunch I'll go for it.  But otherwise (which is most of the time) I have to figure out a way to eat something quick so..... I have some energy to run after him the rest of the day.

I've been experimenting with this idea of keeping a stash of pre-made snacks that pack a lot of protein and are healthier than say... heating up a slice of pepperoni pizza.

I have created a recipe for homemade granola bars...or our favorite- granola balls.  My husband and I both agreed that we like the granola balls better.  They tend to fall apart less, are quicker to eat, and they hold up nicely in the fridge without getting too hard to bite.
My homemade granola bars/balls are super easy to whip up and you can mix and match it up with whatever nuts, or dried fruit you want or have on hand.
Here is what I do:
In one bowl:
- Take 1 cup each of cashews, peanuts, and almonds, sunflower seeds (or any other nuts you want)- chop them up in a food processor or rough chop with a knife
- I didn't add dried fruit but you could throw in raisins, or any dried fruit you want
- mix with 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
- mix in 1 cup of rolled oats (the quick cooking kind)
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- a pinch of salt

In another bowl mix the wet ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- 1/2 cup of molasses
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 1/4 cup of honey

-Mix wet ingredients well and then add the to the dry ingredients. Stirring everything until it is well blended.  If the mixture is not coming together and is falling apart too much you can add more honey or molasses to help it bind a little more. The texture will vary based on what all you put in it. 
- Line a 13" x 9" baking pan (or whatever other baking pan you have) with parchment paper, not wax paper.  They are two different things.   I use parchment paper for easy release of any candy or other sticky recipes because I don't use those spray things and I don't want to add extra butter or oil to my recipe. 
-Pour your mixture in and spread it nice and flat.  At this point I will usually take a piece of parchment paper and place it on top and then press and pack down everything really tightly into the pan. 
-Place the pan in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes. 
-When you remove the pan from the oven place it on a cooling rack until it is COMPLETELY COOLED.  This may take an hour or two.  You could put it in the fridge to speed up the process.  However, do NOT take a hot glass pan and place it in the fridge or freezer because it may crack and explode on you.  Let it sit out for 15 minutes and then put it in the fridge.  If you remove it before it is cooled I can almost guarantee you it will crumble in your hands.  If you want granola bits then that's fine, otherwise let it cool!  Once it has cooled, place it on a cutting surface and cut bars out of it.  If you want to make some granola balls simply scoop out the cooled mixture with an ice cream scoop or spoon and roll it in your hands into a ball.

That's it!  They are so yummy....packed with goodness....and make great snacks for kids, adults, for picnics, etc.

Buen provecho!

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