I asked a few days ago about good recipes to bring to other people (like, recipes that freeze well, or ride nicely in a disposable casserole pan), and they are pouring in! Okay, so there are only two so far. Feel free to add another to the deluge: email me at swistle at gmail dot com, and I’ll post the recipes in a day or two.
In the meantime, here’s a recipe I got off the back of a Grape-Nuts box and then modified. The resulting bars are dense and wouldn’t qualify as a low-cal type of food, but they’re great for new mothers who are struggling to find time to eat, or for pregnant women battling that “must eat / can’t eat” problem. You can eat one of these with a glass of milk for breakfast or a snack, and they’re easy to eat while nursing the baby. I also sent a batch to my brother when he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and he said they were awesome for that. So take note if you’re planning on hiking or conceiving!
Swistle’s Modified Grape-Nuts Bars
1 c. corn syrup
1 c. sugar
1 c. peanut butter
4-5 c. stuff (see below)
1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Butter a 9×13 pan.
In a large saucepan (I like the ancient Revereware I found at an estate sale–I think it holds 4 quarts, but a 3-quart will do), heat and stir corn syrup and sugar to boiling. Let them boil for a tiny while (under a minute), stirring until it looks all clearish instead of all grainy. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until it is all creamy sweet peanut buttery goodness.
Now add 4-5 cups of assorted stuff. My favorite combination is: 2 cups Grape-Nuts, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup raw shell-less unsalted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup flax seed meal, 1/2 cup raw or roasted/salted sunflower seeds. (I mix those all together in a bowl ahead of time so I can dump them into the pan all at once: it’s easier to stir that way.) If you want, you can also add a cup of raisins or other dried fruit—that’s in addition to the 4-5 cups of other stuff, not as one of the cups.
Scrape the mixture into the 9×13 pan. Dampen your hands with a little cold water and press the mixture around evenly—be careful, because it’s hot. Don’t press too hard because they’re already dense bars, but you don’t want them falling apart in chunks, either. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top; then, if the pan has a lid, put the lid on so the warmth is trapped and can melt the chocolate. A little while later (ten minutes?), open the lid and use the back of a spoon to spread the melted chocolate around. Then cut into bars while they’re still warm—way easier than if they’re cold. I like to use a dough knife, but a regular knife works fine too.
I found it took a little practice to get this recipe the way I wanted it. The first time, I made it with four cups of Grape-Nuts (that was what the recipe on the box called for) and then I pressed way too hard. The result was hard to bite into, and I thought they were fine but boring. That’s when I started tampering with different ingredients, though I almost always still use 2 cups of Grape-Nuts. I also didn’t pack the bars into the pan quite as hard.