Sunday, January 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Granola Clusters

I have been wanting to try this recipe since the end of the summer/early September. I don't know what my problem is because when I see a recipe like this I usually go out the next day and get what I need and make it. It is kind of like buying new clothes. I need to wear them right away. Who are those crazy people who buy them and let them hang in their closet for months before wearing them??? Anyway I found the recipe in this little newspaper magazine...

See that it says, "Back to school kids' issue?" That is what caught my attention in August actually and here it is January 15th and I am finally getting around to it. Relish is always full of wonderful recipes and they are often very healthy. It usually comes in the weekend or Monday paper around here so keep your eyes out for it.

I am always trying to find some healthy snack alternatives that I can feel good to saying yes about when the kids ask, and that Miles and I will enjoy also! So when I saw the peanut butter and granola cluster recipe I figured we had a winner.

So we begin with a healthy all natural peanut butter. Smucker's is my favorite one but I will admit I didn't try a whole bunch because when your heart finds the one it loves you quit looking. You will also need some brown rice syrup. The health benefit of this as a sweetener is that it is a complex sugar. Your body breaks complex sugar down more slowly so you don't get the spike in blood sugar you get from simple sugars. It is a bit expensive so you can substitute honey if you wish. Perhaps that is why I bought a cheap brand of pure maple syrup if there is such a thing!

You will measure these ingredients out along with some olive oil and put them in a pan to melt and thin the peanut butter. It takes about 5 minutes and a little stirring.

In a large deep bowl measure out some rolled oats, cranberries, chopped almonds, cinnamon, and a dash of sea salt. I did this before I turned the burner on so I could concentrate on the peanut butter mixture.

When the liquids are ready pour them into the dry ingredients and with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray mix together. You will need every last drop of that peanut butter and syrup mix so use a spatula to get it all out and resist licking the spoon!

I was a bit concerned when this didn't stick together the way a regular cookie dough does but I hopefully proceeded anyway.

I was even more concerned when I dropped them by heaping spoonfuls onto the parchment paper and they didn't seem to want to stick in nice little heaps. My fingers were telling me otherwise though as I helped to shape each one a little bit so I figured they would be okay. Just keep in mind that you will need to use your fingers or the back of the spoon to help any loose parts get connected to a cookie!

Twenty two minutes later we had such a great little portion of goodness. I can't believe it took me so long to make these sweet, crunchy cookies!  They look a bit like my healthy banana oatmeal cookies, but they taste nothing like them, so try them!

Miles loved them and said they might be all gone by tomorrow. Evan said they taste like a granola bar and Faith said she liked them too. Now given the choice between the molasses cookies and these, they would pick the first for sure, but they are coming along and if I said they could have this cookie after school for a snack I believe they would happily accept. In fact Faith just came in with an old cell phone, pretended to take a picture, and told me she posted my cookies on facebook.
Love. That. Girl.

Peanut Butter Granola Clusters (Relish Magazine August 2011 Issue)
1/3 cup creamy style natural peanut butter
½ cup brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups uncooked old fashioned oats
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. coarse salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine peanut butter, syrups, and oil in a small pan. Cook over low heat until melted and the mixture can easily be stirred together. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a deep bowl, combine oats, almonds, cranberries, cinnamon, and salt. Toss to mix well. Pour peanut butter over oat mixture and, using a rubber spatula coated with cooking spray, stir until everything is evenly coated. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden and crisp. Set tray on wire rack and let cool completely.

Store cooled in an air-tight container.

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