Ahh…and drizzled in chocolate too.
Because I really just get a little carried away sometimes.
I am not sorry in the least though. Nothing wrong with a little extra drizzle of the good stuff.
I know that it is only August twelfth and all, but apparently many kids are already headed back to school. Little Asher (not so little anymore – she is going to be six in a few weeks!) goes back the twentieth, but I know some kids are already back in school. Don’t the school officials know this is WAY too earlier to be back in school? August is still summer, and sitting in the classroom on a hot August day just does not sound fun… or fair.
Oh well, at least back to school means new notebooks, pencils, pretty colored pens, FALL BOOTS (I love fall and I LOVE boots) and snacks. Lots and lots of after school snacks. My favorite.
Back to school also means back to baking. I am so excited to start really baking again. I kind of miss all my crazy cupcakes, sweet bars and baked cookies. Sounds like I’m coming down with baking fever. Or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to turn my oven on! My bare legs are getting goosebumps because of our fall-like, cozy weather. It’s cold and dreary and the boys even had a bonfire going all day on Sunday.
It reminded me of a fall Sunday when I was a kid. The football game on and the fire roaring. The smells of fresh firewood burning and the crisp, cool air against my face. Those are some of the most comforting feelings to me.
I know, STOP. I will. My brain is stopping all fall thoughts now.
Thinking summer, summer, SUMMER! All month long.
And these bars couldn’t be a better representation of summer. I mean, I did stuff them with plenty of garden fresh zucchini.
Zucchini in the bars? Well, you can’t really see the zucchini, but it’s there. It’s actually good you can’t really see it because then the people who fear anything green don’t run screaming. Which would honestly be most of my family members. Whimps I tell you.
Anyway, these bars are SIMPLE. They can be made gluten free and vegan if need, which makes them perfect for everyone. I did bake them, but you do not have to if you don’t have time or it’s just too hot. BUT I highly recommend baking. Baking them makes them perfectly crisp on the outside, but soft and chewy in the middle. That’s a great combo.
My other littler secret? I probably slipped in a cup or so of whole grain Cheerios. Yeah, it’s a good idea.
To make things even better, the granola bars get dipped in a little chocolate. Ok, a lot of chocolate. I figure by the time school is out for the day everyone (adults included) are pretty much beat. Chocolate is the perfect little pick me up.
It works every time. Like a charm.
- 2 cups freshly grated zucchini (1 med or 2 sm) *squeeze out excess water
- 3 cups old fashioned oats (use gluten free if needed)
- 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup brown rice krispies
- 1 cup whole grain Cheerio's (use more brown rice krispies for gluten free)
- 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (flax meal)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter or almond (any nut/seed butter works too)
- 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup for a vegan version)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 12 ounces semi-sweet, milk or dark chocolate (for vegan version use dark chocolate, melted)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish or half sheet pan with parchment paper or greased tin foil. In a large bowl toss together the zucchini, oats, coconut oil, brown rice krispies, cheerio's, almonds, chia seeds, ground flax and salt. Give it all a good toss.*
In a bowl or 2 cup glass measuring cup add the peanut butter and honey. Microwave the mixture on high for 30 second intervals until the mixture is smooth and almost bubbling on top (about 2 minutes). Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture over the granola and toss well, making sure all the dry ingredients are coated with the wet.
Spread the granola into the pan and press down hard. I used the back of a measuring cup to press the granola into the pan (spray or oil the bottom so it does not stick and press hard!), it works awesome!
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.* The bars will be golden on top. Remove the bars and let them cool completely before cutting. Once cool, cut into bars.
Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Dip the granola bars into the melted chocolate and place them on the baking sheet chocolate side up. Place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes, remove the bars and flip them over, if desired drizzle with any remaining chocolate. Freeze another 5 minutes. Store in a sealed container or wrapped in plastic wrap. Can be kept in the fridge or in a cool and dark pantry or cupboard.
*If desired you can toast the oats before mixing them with the remaining ingredients. I find this helps add flavor and if I have time I try to do it. In a large bowl toss the zucchini, oats and melted butter or coconut oil. Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven (at 350) for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the pan once to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and mix with the remaining dry ingredients as directed
*You can skip the final baking step if desired and just refrigerate the bars until firm, about 1 hour. Dip in chocolate as directed, store in the fridge.
Things dipped in chocolate always make a day better!
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