Super Energy Snack: Coconut oat chocolate chip granola bars

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time searching for the perfect homemade granola bar recipe. Ironic, isn’t it? I knew what I wanted: something chewy, with shredded coconut and chocolate chips, but that was still filling and gave me an energy boost, not just a sugar rush. Finally, I found it, and it all made sense: the recipe was made by one of the chefs who cooked for the employees at Google. Of course, they need brain food to stay energized and really really focused! But, um, don’t we all?

From personal experience, here are a few occasions where these bars have been shared and enjoyed: staff meetings, study sessions, after a workout, breakfast on the go, second breakfast, on road trips, satiating a cranky sibling during a long drive… I’ll stop there.  Try this one out, you’ll never want store-bought granola bars again.

**I always double the batch, because they keep well and always seem to go fast. If you want to try the original portion, see this source.

Coconut-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chips
Makes 32 small squares
From “Food 2.0” (DK Publishing; $25) by Charlie Ayers

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (I’ve been using quick oats without any issues)
1 cup unrefined light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

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Instructions (from Charlie Ayers): Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil and 9X13-inch square baking pan and set aside (I use virgin coconut oil).

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the oats, brown sugar, coconut, and chocolate chips. Stir together the melted butter, egg, and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Avoid mixing more than needed. Transfer to the prepared pan and level the surface.

Bake until slightly risen, golden, and just firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Put the pan on a rack and let cool before cutting into triangular or rectangular bars or squares.

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Enjoy! And see you tomorrow when I post a DIY craft somewhat related to this!

Time-tested Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Alright guys, I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here. But I’m often asked for this recipe, and it’s pretty fool-proof, so I thought I’d share it and settle this for once and for all.

But first, here’s my ultimate time-saving tip: When you have bananas that are well-ripened, looking more brown than yellow, and you’re in denial about still eating them, put them in the freezer. This will put your mind at ease and they will keep for months.

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I first used this recipe almost a decade ago, but have changed it slightly over the years to reduce the sugar and fat content and it always turns out great. I mainly cut back on the butter and instead add a little yogurt and extra banana to keep it from being dry.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar (or you can even do ½)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup yogurt or sour cream (somewhat optional, it’ll still turn out if you don’t add them)
1 ½ to 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4-5 frozen bananas, depending on size)
2 cups flour (you can do 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

optional:
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup ground flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

I like a bit of texture in my bread, so I almost always add the coconut, walnuts and flax seeds. Feel free to experiment with other additions you may like, such as sunflower seeds or craisins.

Preparation (adapted from Mitzi)
Cream sugar and butter; beat in the mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients and stir into the first mixture just until moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips (and coconut, nuts, etc if you are using them) until well incorporated.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil (very important so that it stays moist and doesn’t burn the top!). 

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 40-45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted tests done.
Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool banana bread completely before slicing.

Distractions

Distractions… for once I need distractions. When faced with uncertainties, my mind often wanders to the darkest, most terrible scenarios. A constant loop of perpetual nonsense leading to zero gratification. In terms of staying busy, I’m trying to avoid the whole Netflix catatonia route. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good TV marathon, but I need something that leaves me feeling a little more accomplished. So, I bake. Baking gives me all the reassurance I need (or almost). There’s something reassuring in knowing that, even when life throws us its uncertainties, if you mix flour, butter, sugar and eggs, and bring it to a high temperature, you will get something fantastic. This time, I made Joy the Baker’s Grapefruit White Chocolate Brown Butter Cookies. That Joy Wilson, she knows what’s up. They are definitely unlike any other cookie I have made, and I was looking for something new. These cookies have a combination of buttery comfort, with an unexpected touch of citrus surprise to brighten up your winter.  I happened to have all the ingredients, so it was meant to be. If you are in need of a change from your regular chocolate chip, I recommend you try these. Here’s a tip I learned a while back and has saved me tons of time and energy: freeze your cookie dough! If you don’t need a few dozen cookies that day, save them for a later time. If you’re feeling really ambitious, double the batch. Here are my tips for freezing cookie dough:

  • once the dough is ready, roll them into little balls. I usually use the a measuring spoon as a scoop (the Tbs size)
  • place them on a plate or cookie sheet leaving space between each dough ball and put it in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. This will keep them from sticking together.
  • once out of the freezer, transfer them into resealable bags. Press the air out of the bag to avoid freezer burn.
  • To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 320 degrees, place them on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet, pop them in for 12 minutes (10 if I want a really soft cookie, and i usually do) and DONE! Little effort, great result.

photo 2-1 P.S.: for a little extra flavour power, I like to sprinkle on a little sea salt before baking.