Thursday, March 11, 2010

Maple Granola To-Go

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a morning person. Neither is Stan. We are all about sleeping in as long as possible. We are BFFs with our snooze buttons. Needless to say, by the time we drag ourselves out of bed in the morning, we are often in a hurry to get out the door. This does not leave much time for breakfast, which is a shame, because elementary school taught us all that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s a girl or guy to do when caught in this predicament? Easy – grab breakfast to go.

Now I must admit, I’m not one for eating breakfast in the car if I can help it. (I tend to end up wearing whatever I’m eating.) But I do appreciate the convenience of foods that can easily be packed up and tossed in a purse or lunch bag for later consumption. I’m a girl who likes her snacks. Stan likes to pack his breakfast every morning and take it to work with him. Sadly, he has more time to eat at his desk than at home. It seems we are victims of the so-called “rushed” American culture. But it’s not our fault. It’s the darn snooze button.

Looking to help Stan spice up his take-out breakfast routine, I tried this Maple Granola To-Go recipe a couple of weeks ago. Not exactly granola “bars” the granola is baked in the oven then pressed into muffin cups and baked again, resulting in round granola bars. The recipe is pretty flexible, allowing you to use whatever dried fruits you like. (I used dried apricots and cranberries.) And while the recipe calls for specific types of nuts, I’m sure you could substitute whatever nuts you like.

Nutty, fruity, chewy, and not too sweet, these granola bars made a great portable breakfast treat for Stan. I enjoyed them too, crumbled up over some Greek yogurt. If you’re looking for a new breakfast treat (or a mid-afternoon snack) I would recommend giving this recipe a try.

Maple Granola To-Go
Adapted from Food Network Kitchens Cookbook

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned not quick oats)
1 cup mixed dried fruit
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
2 T. sesame seeds
2 T. unsalted butter
8 T. maple syrup, divided
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, dried fruit, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, and sesame seeds.

In a small pot, add the butter and 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup. Heat on medium-low until the butter is melted. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture, and stir to combine, making sure the oats are coated evenly.

Spread the oat mixture on a baking sheet or two.

Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the granola is toasted and golden brown. Remove the pan(s) from the oven, but leave the oven on.

Transfer the granola to a large bowl, and stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons of maple syrup and the egg whites.

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray, and firmly press about 1/3 cup of the granola mixture into each cup. (Press very firmly to make the granola stick together. I did not press hard enough and about half of my granola bars fell apart when I removed them from the pan.)

Bake about 45 minutes, or until set. Cool the granola bars in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes, then turn them out and cool them completely on the rack.

The granola bars will keep for up to a month in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.

Makes 12 granola bars.

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