We have endured a strong yet tragic relationship for many years. Doctors tell me not to devour even a morsel of your charms, but you always find a way back in to my life. Whether you linger on a cracker, curl up snugly to some macaroni, stand tall in a breakfast glass or sprinkle yourself on salads, your charm is undeniable. I swoon your way time and time again.
But you are not good for me. When you are in my daily life I get too many colds, my skin turns pink and rashy, my bones ache, my hair gets dull, my tummy hurts, and my brain fogs over slowly until I eventually forget the names of even the simplest things. Not only does your presence affect me physically, but I am emotionally and mentally damaged by you. This is not a healthy relationship.
If you see me on a crowded street or in a seedy café, please turn the other way. I am not strong enough to say no. Not yet. You will not hear from me again until I have the power to be in your presence without succumbing to your good looks.
Until then, we part as friends and I will do my best to fill the void.
Let’s start with these delightful squares. They are soft, chewy and a cross between a granola bar and a cookie. It is fair to say these are irresistible even sans butter.
Chocolate Junk Granola Squares (Adapted from SmittenKitchen)
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 30 squares
Nutrition Information per serving: 240 cals, 13 fat, 5 protein, 28 carbs
2 ½ cups rolled oats (I use Trader Joes Gluten Free Oats)
2/3 cup oat flour (or 2/3 c rolled oats finely ground)
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups dairy free dark chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup Craisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup natural nut butter (peanut, almond, whatever you like)
¼ cup plain coconut milk
2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees faranheit. Line two 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pans with parchment paper and create “handles” by cutting the paper longer than the pan. Grease the paper and the pan with non-stick spray.
Toss all of the dry ingredients with chocolate chips, nuts and dried fruit. In a large bowl, stir together vanilla, nut butter, honey, coconut milk and water until it is thoroughly incorporated. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until combined. Spread the mixture in to the pans, pressing down firmly to create a sturdy bar.
Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Like cookies, the bars should appear underdone when they come out. Allow them to cool in the pans completely. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper handles. Refrigerate for 1 hour; slice in to portable squares.
Keep in an airtight container (or even in the fridge for a longer shelf life).