Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pumpkin Granola Bars (and why going on vacation makes me want to bake!)

Vacation is in T minus 2 days. I don't have a thing packed or ready to go except for buying snacks. Typically, when we head south, we fly. This year my sweet little pumpkin is 2 and while that means some independence, fights and the dreaded potty training, it also means we no longer have to spend our hours on a plane fighting with a wiggly, upset child on our laps. Yes, at the age of 2, the airlines make you buy your child a ticket (which is both a blessing and a curse -- I mean now I have hands to read my kindle and possibly take advantage of the airline beverage service since I can 1. put my tray down and 2. the odds of her knocking it over are lessened slightly by the distance of the next seat. So there's that.) But ticket prices to fly to Orlando have been crazy high lately and are not dropping so that means gassing up my car and taking a road trip.

And a road trip inspires me to buy and make snacks. Lots of them. Because what else is there to do in the car besides drive, listen to music and eat?

I saw a recipe on Pinterest for pumpkin granola bars. I have made road trip granola bars before (Tosca Reno's sweet potato bars) and they didn't make it to this blog. They were mushy and wet and soggy. Good flavor but the texture made me gag. (My poor husband had to eat a gallon size bag of them by himself. My toddler and I both voted no.) So I was hesitant to try these. Pumpkin and sweet potato (and butternut squash!) are kind of similar and interchangeable in a lot of stuff. But I gave it a shot. Because it's fall and even the air should be pumpkin flavored. (Side note - I do not drink pumpkin spice latte's they gross me out. To compensate, I attempt to eat my way through the fall by way of the pumpkin and other various squash cousins - namely of the acorn and butternut squash variety. But to each their own.)

This recipe was amazing -- not only because it contains pumpkin and chocolate but a bunch of other awesome things as well. Flaxseed for omega-3's, ginger for some anti-inflammatory action, cinnamon for all sorts of reasons (read more about that here) and even honey which (raw honey) has been touted as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and an anti-viral substance (check out more on honey here.)

They baked up not sticky and messy but kind of cakey, not what I expect in a granola bar. I think they would make awesome cookies. They are really good. Not very sweet (I cut the original amount of honey in half) but I wasn't going for sweet. I have really cut back on sugar in general (even natural sugar) so I have become more sensitive to sweet (which for me is a mini-miracle. I used to eat frosting, out of a can.) I also think maple syrup in this recipe may be amazing.

The original recipe for the pumpkin granola bars is here. I (of course!) had to do a few things differently.

First - I doubled the recipe. An 8x8 pan was not going to cut it. (I have 16+ hours in a car with a toddler. Plus a week's worth of snacks I need to pack since she refuses to eat real meals and only snacks -- we call lunch and dinner "big" snacks and sometimes it works *wink wink*)

Second -- I added raisins because I love them and cut back on the chocolate.

Third -- I searched high and low and everywhere to find chocolate without soy lecithin. (Yes! it does exist.) I prefer my chocolate without a side of GMO soy. (I used Enjoy Life brand.)


5 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup of pureed pumpkin
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup raw honey (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)
1/2 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 9 x 13 pan (I used coconut oil to grease mine and it worked awesome!)

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (oats through cloves)

In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients (save the chocolate chips and raisins)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well (it was gross but I mixed it with my hands to make sure it was all mushed together -- in a good way)

Fold in the chocolate and the raisins (again I used my hands)

Press into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top browns slightly. 

Let cool completely and cut. 


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