OK, so granola bars don’t scream Cyprus cooking. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t put a little Cyprus into a granola bar. They are so easy to make and are a fantastic snack food. In Canada, eating a granola bar at recess might as well be a prerequisite to graduating from school. They are everywhere. You can also take the bars to work and eat them at your desk for breakfast with a coffee or as an afternoon snack food. What I am trying to say is that granola bars are such a useful food, it made sense to add a recipe to the website and add some Cyprus flavours. In this case, I added dates because they are in season, and dried figs because I have tons of them in my cupboard.
As with most food products nowadays, store-bought granola bars don’t have as much healthy “goodness” packed into them. But they are very easy to make at home, so anyone can do it. Really. The most arduous step is pressing the oat mixture into a pan.
The flavour combinations are endless, and you don’t have to be a cooking expert to experiment. Basically, the granola base stays the same and you can add an assortment of different dried fruits and even chocolate chips. I used “organic” rolled oats in the recipe below. I am a big fan of organic food.
Not sure if it is a placebo affect or something else, but whenever I eat non-organic oats my throat starts to feel funny. This doesn’t happen when I eat organic oats. So whenever a recipe calls for a lot of oats, I buy organic. Some facts about these granola bars: 1. The granola bars actually taste better the day or two after you make them. 2. You can easily cut them into pieces and taken with you to work or given to kids as a school snack. 3. The recipe below still has some sugar in it, but you could probably cut the sugar entirely out if you substituted the sugar with honey.
2 1/4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 1/4 cup unsalted mix of almonds, pistachios, cashews, coconut and walnuts (I used 3/4 cup almonds and 1/2 cup of evenly mixed pistachio, cashew, walnut and coconut flakes, but any preferred nut mixture will work.)
1 cup shredded coconut
3 tbs unsalted butter
2/3 cup Cyprus honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup dried currants or chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 176C. Line an 8 x 12 inch baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Place the almond nut mixture into a food processor or blender and pulse for a few seconds so that the almond nut mixture becomes coarsely ground.
3. Toss the oatmeal, almond nut mixture and coconut together on another baking tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
4. Transfer the baking tray mixture into a large bowl and reduce oven temperature to 150C.
5. Place the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until blended. Pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Stir in the dates, figs and currants (or chocolate chips).
6. Pour the mixture into the baking tray. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the tray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is golden. Let cool for at least 2 hours before cutting into pieces.