Peanut Butter Granola Bars!

Today’s Lesson: Unprocess Your Life

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     If we look in almost any kitchen in America we would find a plethora of processed foods.  There are the breakfast cereals in the cupboard, the bread on the counter, the crackers and chips that you go to for a quick fix, the granola bars that you try to survive on in the morning, the “healthy” frozen entre for lunch and, the bottle of spaghetti sauce and noodles for dinner.  Processed foods are unavoidable in our current day and age and thank goodness for some of them.  But let’s take a step back from our processed food addiction and get some perspective.  No I can’t grow wheat in my back yard and mill it for flour, but I can buy flour and make my own bread instead of buying it.  This week I’m going to focus on some foods that you can easily make at home that most of us buy.

For me it’s important to make what I can instead of buying it because cooking is a real skill that we should all have.  I think basic cooking skills like bread baking, canning, preserving, hunting, fishing and gardening are life skills that are just as important as geometry or english.  If we give up all of our cooking and food knowledge and only buy from big companies we’re entrusting them with our health and our survival. Personally I don’t trust them and since I can’t pronounce half the things on the labels I really don’t have any clue what’s in them.  I know life is crazy and there isn’t one of us out there that feels they have the time to make everything themselves.  This week though pick on thing, just one food item that you really depend on for your day or week and try cutting out the middleman and making it yourself.  Another good option is to find local producers of products that you can trust and buy from them.

I used to buy granola bars for a quick breakfast as I ran out the door in the morning.  Sure they would quiet my stomach for about a half an hour and then I was starving again.  When I decided to make my own bars I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that these things don’t keep me very full.  So I was pleasantly surprised that after eating my first homemade bar how satisfied and full I felt for hours.  Hope you enjoy these, they are so easy and so good!

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup peanut butter (I love the kind you can get ground fresh at a local co-op or Whole Foods.  It’s an amazing combination of creamy and crunchy and no preservatives!)

½ cup of raw organic honey

¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup

¾ cup chopped almonds and cashews

¼ cup raisins

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Use a 8 x 8 baking pan, drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan and spread around with your fingers making sure to coat the sides, before you wash your hands put some of that natural moisturizer on your lips for a great hydrating treatment.  If you have time rub the olive oil into your hands as well.

Now heat the honey and the peanut butter for 15 sec in the microwave to soften.   Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and add the honey and peanut butter, stir this mixture with a rubber spatula until blended through.  Put all the other ingredients into the bowl and try to stir as best as possible.  You will find that it’s hard to stir so the best thing to do is to wash your hands and get them in there and really mix everything together well.  I know it’s hard, especially if you were brought up to not play with your food but it’s the best way to make sure you get everything mixed in.  Now just put that mixture into your pan and press it down with the spatula until it’s even.  Put in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, you just want the edges to start to brown. If you like them chewy do 15 min if you like them crispier bake for longer.  Then let them cool, cut them up and store in an airtight container.  Now you have a delicious and healthy breakfast that will keep you satisfied!  Of course you can put just about anything you like in these bars so experiment with your favorite fruit and nut combinations.  Now go bake some, now! 🙂

-Melissa

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