Thursday, March 27, 2014

Honey Peanut Butter Apple Granola Bars

We just returned from 4 days spent wandering the desert in the Needles of Canyonlands. The desert has captivated me in the last few years. So much of it is still left untouched and you can still find places where you can hike for miles and not see a soul. This is a gift in a world where we are almost always surrounded by others, even in many of our National Parks, where we go to seek wilderness and solitude. The Needles District of Canyonlands is spectacular. We hiked surrounded by towering red rocks and if neither of us was speaking, it was silent, no car noise, no people talking, just beautiful scenery and the company of each other. Our most breathtaking hike led us to Druid Arch. I hope everyone has the opportunity to visit this beautiful arch in their life. It's Utah's best (don't tell Delicate Arch I said that). It reminds you take a deep breath, relax, and appreciate this world and all its wonder. But enough of my desert ramblings, let's talk about the food that powered us through these long hikes. Specifically granola bars, which are easy to make and leaps and bounds better than store bought.
Druid Arch

Granola bars are essentially some combination of oats, other grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, and some kind of binder such as oil, butter, and honey. So many options. Go wild! These make for great snacks. The granola bars I made rely primarily on the honey and peanut butter to bind them with just a little added butter. They are a power food and so delicious!

Honey Peanut Butter Apple Granola Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup oat flour (if you don't have oat flour just process until ground in a food processor)
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups dried apples, chopped
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract 
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup honey 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 8" square pan with parchment. Coat the parchment with nonstick spray. 

Stir together rolled oats, oat flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dried apples. 

In a sauce pan over medium low heat, stir together peanut butter, vanilla extract, butter, and honey, until all ingredients have just melted and combined. 

Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and press it firmly into all the corners of the pan. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting them into squares. Grab a couple and go enjoy the outdoors. 

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