Homemade Granola Bars with Cranberries & Walnuts

Homemade Granola Fruit and Nut Bars

I don’t know about you, but around this time of the year, I start to scale back on my weekday cooking in order to prepare my refrigerator for all of the things I am making for Thanksgiving. This year my self imposed scale back has nothing to do with needing room for my thanksgiving dishes, instead I’m scaling back in preparation for not being home. We are joining millions of travelers this year, we are going to visit my in-laws in Nevada for Thanksgiving. Since we’ll be in the car for more than 3 hours, I decided to prepare some healthy snacks for us to munch on during the drive. This granola bar fits the bill perfectly. It has nuts, 3 kinds of fruit, and no refined sugar!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
3/4 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter plus more for oiling the baking dish
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/3 cups chopped nuts I used walnuts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup of dried fruit, I used a mixture of sour cherries, cranberries, and raisins
1/3 cup creamy almond or peanut butter
1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup of Coconut flakes unsweetened  for topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the maple syrup and the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over low. Cook, stirring, until the oil melts. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, and pinch of salt. Drizzle maple mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Place the oats in large bowl, add dried fruit and mix well. 

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. 

In saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup of maple syrup, almond butter, and honey over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil. Drizzle over oat mixture and stir until combined; transfer  mixture to buttered baking dish. With a spatula, firmly press granola into dish. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, then cut into bars or squares.





What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Since I’ll be visiting family next week, I am not sure I will have time to post. My daughter is turning 2 on Thanksgiving day, so when we return I’ll be focused on celebrating this major milestone with her. Happy cooking, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Caramel Popcorn with Almonds and Coconut Flakes

Caramel Popcorn
Coconut Caramel Popcorn

You didn’t think that I would let Halloween pass without a giving you a recipe for a delectable goodie did you. Okay I almost did. It’s been a busy week for me and I haven’t had much time to devote toward taking pictures for the blog. But, I rallied, and summoned the rest of my energy to make this popcorn for you guys. I’m selfless what can I say:-). If you’re looking for something chewy and soft, similar to a popcorn ball, then this is not the recipe for you. This recipe is more like the popcorn you’d find in those large tins people give you at Christmas, only this is 1000 times better.

Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 cups

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of Organic non GMO popcorn
3 Tablespoons of Coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Almonds
1 cup of Organic Sugar
4 Tablespoons of grassfed butter
3 Tablespoons of Organic Corn Syrup
1 teaspoon of Sea salt
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of coconut flakes (optional)

Spray a large baking sheet with coconut oil. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Add popcorn kernels and 3 Tbsp. coconut oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, shaking frequently. You will start hearing the corn pop after a few minutes—keep cooking until there’s a gap of about 5 seconds or more between pops. Immediately remove the pan from heat and pour the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet. Add the almonds and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and water. Place over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the mixture is a light caramel color, about 10 minutes. Add the salt and stir to combine. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and almonds.



Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the caramel becomes thin and shiny, about 10 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and working quickly use a rubber spatula, to fold and coat the popcorn and Almond mixture with caramel. Don’t worry if you can’t coat it all in this first toss, if the caramel starts to harden return the bake sheet to the oven. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to completely coat the popcorn and Almonds with caramel or until the caramel has turned a dark amber color. I did this 5 times checking on the popcorn and tossing it, in 5 minute intervals. On my 4th turn I added the coconut flakes. I just sprinkled them in and gave good toss.

Once you remove the popcorn, let it cool for 2-3 minutes, then break the popcorn into bite-size pieces. Cool completely before transferring to a storage container. It will last two weeks stored in an air-tight container.


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