granola bars

What's Better Than a Payday? A Payraise!

Swim team season has started up again, which means lots of practices and meets for my three kids. Which means granola bar consumption has spiked.

I spent a truckload of time in the amazingly overextensive granola bar aisle of QFC, reading labels, coming to the disheartening conclusion that--news flash!--granola bars do not qualify as health food. (And that's not even counting the "chewy" variety because I suspect the only way baked goods stay chewy is plenty of chemicals.) Granola bars are especially not health food when your kids reject the kind with chunks of real dried fruit in favor of those with real drizzled chocolate.

Yes, they are glorified candy bars

As processed foods go, these Nature Valley ones aren't bad. Some soy flour I didn't want, along with two instances of so-called "natural flavor," but otherwise not too bad of stuff, all wrapped up in nonrecyclable plastic.

I could've gone with the hot new KIND bars, and sometimes I do, but all those real ingredients mean they are decidedly expensive. And they, too, come in the nonrecyclable plastic.

So I got the brilliant idea that I would make homemade snack bars, and a little searching on the internet turned up this extremely helpful post. Wow! Thanks, The Yummy Life!

My first batch of "Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt" came out beautifully, although the caramel-ish sugar stuff holding all those nuts together threatened to pull out my fillings. The girls loved them, as did the others I gave samples to. Only my boy objected. He's in braces, after all, and those giant almonds were off-limits, even if he liked giant almonds.

That's when the brilliant idea hit me that I could use mostly peanuts, resulting in the homemade equivalent of a Chocolate-Drizzled Payday Bar. Wow.

But what to name it--is there something even better than a pay day? Why, a pay raise!

(Drum roll, please!) I now present to you, the PAYRAISE BAR...

Payraise Bars
3-1/2 cups roasted peanuts (if they're salted, reduce salt)
1 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup puffed millet

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or whatever combo of the two you have)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp oil

Grease a large mixing bowl and a 9x13 pan with butter. Mix the nuts, seeds, and millet in the bowl.

Peanuts and a few cashews I had, to total 3-1/2 cups
Flax seeds

No nutritional value, but kinda fun!

Brown rice syrup is some hippie alternative to corn syrup, I think:

Heat the syrups, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt in a saucepan until it froths and reaches 260F on a candy thermometer, otherwise known as "hard-ball stage," the candy equivalent of we're-not-messing-around-anymore.

Immediately pour the syrup over the nut mixture and blend. Then spread in your greased 9x13. With buttered fingers, spread the mixture evenly to fill the pan.

After 20 minutes of cooling, turn it out on a sheet of parchment paper. You'll have to beat on your dish to make it come out, but beat away and have patience.

You could eat the whole thing about now, I suppose

Slice into twenty bars before it cools off and gets too "crunchy."

Then melt the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until it's smooth and melted. Drizzle (or dump) over your bars. Let cool completely. Wrap bars individually in wax paper or parchment or plastic wrap and keep in the freezer. When you want one, thaw it five minutes and enjoy!

You deserve a Payraise.

Are they still glorified candy bars? Yes. But as occasional treats, they're way better than a cookie or candy bar.

Consider the original Payday bar:

PAYDAY Peanut Caramel Bar




Kosher Status: OU-D
Serving Size: 1 Bar
Total Calories 240
Calories from Fat 120
Amount Per Serving %DV *
Total Fat 13 g 20%
   Saturated Fat 2.5 g 13%
   Trans Fat g
Cholesterol mg 0%
Sodium 120 mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 27 g 9%
   Dietary Fiber 2 g 8%
   Sugars 21 g
Protein 7 g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4%
Iron 4%

Note, in particular, the 21g of sugar and 27g carbs, along with additives.

In contrast, Monica of The Yummy Life makes these calculations for her "Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt" bars, on which I based my Payraise variation:

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for one bar: 193 calories, 12.5g fat, 95mg sodium, 18.9g carbs, 2.1g fiber, 14.2g sugars, 5.2g protein

Considerably fewer carbs and less sugar. The protein is a smidge less, but at least it's all from nuts, and not soy. As a final plug, the homemade ones were a snap. Less time to make than a batch of cookies! So remember these, the next time you're the snack parent for a crew of nut-eaters.

P.S. Two more Thursday Markets to go, and I assure you my next post will be healthy. Cross my heart with sticky fingers.