Day 7 of the no-junk-food challenge. Well, really 6 1/2, but who’s counting? Oh, that’s right…I am! We made it past the first week, though. Barely, but we did. We both desperately wanted some potato chips yesterday. The restraint was tremendous. Where’s my medal??
But aside from chips, donuts, and Snickers Bars, being obvious no-nos, there are clearly many different interpretations of what is junk food and what isn’t. And even for us, the lines are getting blurred.
Like, is popcorn junk food? Do sugar cereals cross the line? Is pizza fast food? Are chocolate covered almonds off limits? And what about my beloved Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars? Are they junk food because they’re made with sugar, butter, and chocolate chips? Or do they get a pass because they’re homemade, without any HFCS or preservatives? Ask 10 different people, you’ll get 10 different answers…
Blurry, I say.
So, for the sake of keeping it real, I’ve been making one of my other favorite homemade granola bars. It’s the Chocolate Chip’s very distant cousin, three times removed. It’s only slightly sweet and very healthy. Awesome warm, right from the oven.
These have been getting me through the afternoon hump, where all I want to do is empty the contents of the entire pantry into my mouth. 3pm, for us, is possibly worse than Chinese water torture.
Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
Makes 16 bars
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
• 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup wheat germ
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup slivered almonds
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/2 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, almonds and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bars are just golden brown at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. (Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.)
Reader Questions and Reviews
These will be perfect for our hikes in Walnut Creek Open Space. The store bought granola bars are pretty pathetic.
For me, it’s 9:30pm but I totally feel your pain. Every day is a battle with myself not to reach for the ice cream in the freezer. Every. Day.
Maybe I just need to have these on hand for those ice cream monster moments…
These sound delicious!! I love snacks like this!
What a great challenge. And as for popcorn, I say that if it’s stove-popped it’s not junk food . . . in the microwave bag it might be. (at least let me keep thinking that since it’s a VERY regular snack in our household =)
I hate microwave bagged popcorn, so I’m safe there. But stove top popcorn, with a little butter and salt. Even truffle oil. I could not live without.
YUM!! So healthy AND so delish! Good for you. I will make them, too…possibly swapping cherries for cranberries because I’m like that. Great snack for the pool!
Cherries would be awesome. Actually, you could swap out the cranberries for any dried fruit, really. And the almonds for different nuts. I love recipes like this, with so many variations.
*Pins medal on Amy’s T-shirt* Way to go. ;)
These are like junk food for me, i.e., food I can’t stop shoveling in my pie hole. I don’t make them that often these days, but man, I need to again. After all the ice cream madness dies down for me a bit.
Oh, the ice cream. I know. Someone has a new toy! Wish I was one of your guinea pigs…