Monday, September 10, 2012

Monkey Bars

     What a strange name for a food, right? Monkey bars are actually granola bars that are made with chocolate, banana, and peanut butter. They are delicious. I've actually made them twice in preparation for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment.
     I was assigned to make a recipe from Erin's blog: WholesomeRD. One thing I love about Erin's blog is that the nutritional information is listed for each recipe. She is a nutritionist, so she knows what she is talking about. While there are some special treats, most recipes are pretty healthy. They all sound delicious too! I plan to make the pork carnitas in the very near future. I'm also very interested in trying these smashed bean quesadillas. But alas, I could only choose one recipe to write about and I chose the monkey bars. How can you go wrong with chocolate, banana, and peanut butter?
     These homemade granola bars are very easy to make. The first time, I was really taking my time and let everything cool before adding in the chocolate chips. This results in chocolate chunks in an oat bar. The second time, I was in a hurry and mixed it all together when it was hot, which melted the chocolate which mixed throughout instead of in chunks. Surprisingly, the bars tasted the same either way.
    We loved these bars. I mentioned above that we made them twice! I even gave one to my workout buddy as a peace offering after I made her go to a killer spin class with me. She must have liked it too, because she went home and made some that day! Bananas are supposed to be good for exercise recovery, right? The best part is that there is no added sugar. These are sweetened with honey and maple syrup, so you don't have to feel guilty about what you are eating.
     I did make a few changes from Erin's recipe. I used cashews and regular sized chocolate chips. I also replaced the oat bran with more oats. I used an 8x8 pan to create bars about the same thickness and size of a Quaker granola bar.

Adapted from WholesomeRD
2-1/4 cups oats
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cups milled flax seed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 large banana, very ripe and mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350*. Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
  • Combine oats, nuts, flax, and maple syrup until oats are coated. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. Half way through, stir the oats. Remove when mixture is slightly golden. Let cool.
  • While the oats are toasting, combine peanut butter, honey, and mashed banana in a saucepan. Stir on medium-high until the mixture thins out (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Cool completely. 
  • When the oat mixture and peanut butter mixture are cooled, stir them together and add the chocolate chips.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, flatten with a spatula, and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove bars from the pan using the edges of the parchment paper and let cool. 
  • Cut into 12 bars.

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