Monday, July 30, 2012

Road Trip Food...Dark Chocolate and Dried Cranberry Granola Bars




We're off again!  Road Trip #2 of the summer.

This time we'll be making our way up a few states to the Table Rock Lakes area of southern Missouri.

It's the Kenney Family Reunion 2012.  There will be dozens of cousins, 2nd cousins, and extended family to meet and greet.

We've been working on turning our diets around this summer and have taken ourselves off of many processed foods...

Road trips, however, present the typical difficulties of eating to excess that test our abilities to stay healthy and strong.




I was trying to come up with ideas for snacks that we could pack in the car with us.  We would need something that feels like road food.  

It needs to have chocolate.

It needs to be chewy and feel naughty

It...needs to be feel "bad"!!




Looking for inspiration (for baaaad but healthy bad food) on the web, I came across these homemade granola bars made by Suzanne at 'Strands of My lifeblog.

I decided these would be our "road food" of choice.  They are chewy sweet granola bars and they are packed with many of the foods that we are stocking in our pantry these days.

These granola bars are bound together with pumpkin puree and applesauce.  I saw the inclusion of 1 cup of brown sugar.  I didn't want to use a full cup of brown sugar so I reduced it to 1/2 cup of stevia instead.  I thought they came out well.



All in all, I think these little guys will keep us from making pit-stops to get gas and then coming out of the quick stop with sweets that would be poor choices in terms of nutrition.

Small changes.  Each week, we are trying to make small changes by taking out a processed ingredient and looking for a replacement.  

Oh, we're still going to indulge alright.  I'll never give up my fresh brioche out of the oven, nor my sinful cinnamon rolls dripping with cream cheese frosting, or our homemade pasta...

...but maybe we won't indulge quite so often...as has been our history!









Dark Chocolate and Dried Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars
(recipe from 'Strands of My Life' blog)

Ingredients  

  • 5 cups old fashioned oats 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup Stevia instead)
  • ¾ cup almond slivers
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used apricots and cranberries)
  • ½ cup toasted seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin)
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter a 10” by 10” baking pan and line with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix oats, spices, dried fruit, almonds, seeds, choc chips,  and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist.
  4. Evenly press oat mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the pan by lifting the parchment paper.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 16

44 comments:

  1. These granola bars look delicious. Have a great time on your road trip- that's quite a drive for you!

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  2. Have a fabulous time, I would love to take these bars on the road with me, although I'll never give up my guilty pleasure/driver's prerogative: McDonald's chocolate shakes!

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    1. Oh Sue! I never mentioned our DQ "Bizzard" for the drive back, did I?? Tee hee!

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  3. I really like the idea of using pumpkin in the bars, something I'd never think of. Cutting back on the sugar is something I'd do as well as 1 cup sounds like just too much. Enjoy your trip!

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    1. The second time I made them, I increased the pumpkin, honey, applesauce and spices. Then, I used Stevia instead of any sugar and they were delicious!

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  4. I'm glad you are enjoying these, Sarah. They were a hit with my family. I think you could probably take out 1/2 the sugar without it affecting the chemical balance since the ingredients are so basic. It would be different in a cake where that balance can be crucial. They were quite sweet so I think it was probably a good move. Another way would be to take nearly all of it out and add dates, minced in a food processor. They add the required sweetness to many dishes.
    Have a great trip.

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    1. Thanks again Suzanne, they were such a hit with everyone down at the lake!

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  5. they look delicious! have a wonderful reunion!

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  6. Have a time of your life my dear friend!

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  7. Oh these look delicious and so healthy. Your pictures of them make them look that much better

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  8. Wishing you an awesome time on your trip Sarah. Like you I believe indulging in moderation is perfectly OK as long as the good stuff rules ;o) I probably would have done the same with the sugar content. I think these will be our road trip food too!

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  9. So pretty and healthy! I am definitely making them ASAP!
    Have a great time!
    Cheers:)

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  10. Beautiful photos as always and a nice healthy snack!

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  11. Bon voyage! This looks like the perfect on-the-go snack. I love the combination of cranberries and dark chocolate -- delicious and LOTS of antioxidants (RIGHT? ;)

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  12. Oh..I like the pumpkin puree in the bars! Healthy snack option indeed. Lovely clicks.

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  13. I am so interested in trying healthy granola bars. These look like the fit the bill! Beautiful pictures, and they look really really good

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  14. Those pictures are just gorgeous! I've been trying hard to eat healthy on the road as well, it is such a challenge sometimes! I love that you've replaced the fat in these granola bars with pumpkin puree and apple sauce. Great idea!

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    1. Yes, eating healthy on the road is a HUGE challenge for me. I'm afraid I have taught myself that "on the road" means junk food indulging and I'm trying to break that...somewhat.

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  15. Gosh, can't you just stay home for 5 minutes? I should talk. I'm off to Ohio tomorrow. Seriously though. Food like this and I might show up in MO pretending to be a long lost cousin. GREG

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  16. Wonderful and delicious!
    I love your photos.

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  17. They sound bad and naughty so I will like them for sure - especially since they contain chocolate.

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  18. PS enjoy your trip. I heart southern MO.

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  19. breathtaking pics, Sarah..who would have thought such beauty could be healthy too!

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  20. Way to go with your healthy, bad granola bars! Always smart to have food with you for the road or any trip! I'm a big believer in that. Have fun!

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  21. Sarah, My dream is to someday take such beautiful photos!! These granola bars sound wonderfully delicious…my grandkids would love them. Enjoy your vacation and road trip!!

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  22. Sarah, I have just nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award on my blog because Thyme is one of my favourites. If you wish to pick up the award, please come visit my blog.

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  23. Oooh hoo hoo, I am so much naughtier than you. I'd probably double the sugar, given the amount of oats:)

    The first time I became enticed by your blog, it was over a post about driving up to Missouri for a visit. We've come full circle, and I'm still enticed. Aww! Safe travels, if you're still away.

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  24. Fabulous recipe...and OH SO Gorgeous styling and photos my dear!

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  25. I love making homemade granola bars, and these look great! The pumpkin in them is a such a good idea. I have to try these. Have a great time on your road trip!

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  26. It's hard to find the happy balance of fun tasty road trip food that won't make you feel like you need to diet as soon as you get home. These granola bars sound perfect, though!

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  27. These do look delicious! I hope you enjoy them on your trip and wish you safe travels.

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  28. Sarah dear :) We seem to have the same motto when it comes to healthful foods - naughty and bad (seeming but not so!)

    LOVE these bars but I must wait till I have loads of pumpkin puree before I make these - which of course is around the corner. Everything to love here!

    chow :) DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors

    PS - HAVE a GREAT road trip and family reunion :)

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  29. Road trips are such fun and family get together is like double fun! That does sounds like one awsm food for the trip. Have fun :)

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  30. Hi Sarah...Nothing like a good road trip! I imagine you are still in the thick of family celebrations and travels. Thinking of you as you get your daughter ready for college in a few weeks time. I am bringing mine back to the USA next week. When I am there, I am going to pick up some granola...these granola bars look fab!

    Sending best wishes from Saigon....
    Jeanne xx

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    1. Oh Jeanne, I can't imagine what it will be like for you to be so far away. I wish your daughter were going to college close to our home so she could come for weekend visits. It's going to be a tough month for us both.

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  31. Have a wonderful trip!! And a great reunion! How fun!
    I need those for my morning commute, so I don't stop to get a scone on the way. Chocolate is much healthier :)
    Hope you are doing well.

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    1. I want to tackle scones soon to see if I can change around the flours and sweeteners...I love scones!

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  32. Have a wonderful trip and I hope you enjoy your family reunion.
    The bars have all my favourite ingredients in them, great recipe.

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  33. Even simple granola bars - you turn to magic. Scrumptuous...stunning...gorgeous!

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  34. These look amazing and delicious but I was wondering if the pumpkin purée is absolutely crucial to the recipe? Because I don't have pumpkin purée! :((

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    1. Oh yikes. I do think the pumpkin puree is in there for sweetness, texture, and as a binding to all of the other ingredients. Do you have sweet potatoes? You could soften them in the microwave and then puree them and use that instead. I'm no expert but I also think you could try "apple butter" (usually sold with the jellies) or even "apple sauce". I would even throw out as an option pureed bananas. All of these options would use natural sugar as opposed to processed white sugar. Let me know if you try any one of these and good luck to you!

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  35. Great recipe! Will be linking back to this in my post tomorrow.

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  36. What can I use instead of almonds?

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  37. I just discovered your blog and I am delighted!Thank you for this wonderful recipe!!!

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How wonderful to hear from new friends...