Friday, February 25, 2011

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Honey Power Bars (Plus Dog Treats!)

Two things that I've always wanted to try making at home are granola bars and dog treats. Why? In our household, between myself, my husband, and our golden retriever Annie, we go through a lot of each. As much as I love Clif Mojo bars for us and Greenies for Annie, the cost adds up, and while these products are good, they both still have a lot of additives. I wanted to create recipes where I know exactly what is going into each and are easy to make with items that I generally have around the house. We really enjoyed these bars for an afternoon or mid-morning snack or sustenance on a hike or long run. They have good staying power given their combination of protein and fiber. And needless to say Annie loves the dog treats so your dog is sure to as well.

The best part about both of these is that they also keep for a while in airtight containers (at least 2 weeks for the power bars and longer for the dog treats) and they can both also be frozen. Also, feel free to experiment with different add-ins for the power bars - you could use any type of natural nut butter, substitute the coconut for dried fruit, and use any type of nuts/seeds that you want! These bars are chewy, not crunchy, which we like, and can also be individually wrapped in foil or parchment paper for easy portability. We just finished off our batch, so I'm going to experiment with more recipes as well, but these are certain to be a staple in our pantry...

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Honey Power Bars  
Makes 16 Bars
Time: 15 minutes, plus time to cool

2 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick)
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. dried flaked unsweetened coconut (or chopped dried fruit of your choice)
1/2 c. nuts and seeds (I used 1/4 c. + 1 T. slivered almonds and 2 T. sesame seeds)
1 c. natural creamy peanut butter (or other nut butter of your choice - almond, sunflower seed, cashew, etc.)
3/4 c. honey
1/3 c. molasses (note: these do have a slight molasses flavor, which we like, but if you don't you could just use more nut butter & honey)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. fine grain sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper.

Put the oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, nuts and seeds in a medium bowl, stir to combine, and then spread on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, after the oats/nuts have been toasting for anout 5 minutes, in a medium saucepan, combine the nut butter, honey, and molasses over medium heat until slightly bubbly and smooth, just a few minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Remove the dry ingredients from the oven and mix into the saucepan, stirring well to combine.

Put the mixture into the prepared 9x13 inch pan and, using a small piece of parchment paper to help you, press it down into the pan in an even layer. Cool completely in the pan (this takes about 2 hours) and cut into 16 bars or however big you'd like to make them.

Bonus: Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Treats
Makes varying amounts based on the size of your cookie cutter (the size shown here made about 20)

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick)
1 t. baking powder
3/4 c. lowfat milk
1 c. natural creamy peanut butter
1 T. molasses

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the flour, oats, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, peanut butter, and molasses. (This dough is thick and a little tough to mix - don't worry if it isn't perfectly blended).

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times to better incorporate and soften the dough. Roll out to about 1/2'' thickness and cut with a dog bone cookie cutter or other shape of your choice.

Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let treats cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then remove from the sheet and completely on a wire rack.

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