Anyone who knows me really well is familiar with my love for peanut butter and jelly. I could eat a PB&J sandwich every day. If it weren’t for all the other wonderful nut butters in the world I probably would. My fridge is always stocked with at least two, more likely three or four, different kinds of nut or seed butters. Right now I have a GIANT jar of PB, a tub of tahini, and a jar of T.J.’s sunflower seed butter. I’ve been on a serious open-face, forget-the-jelly, nut butter on toast sandwich kick lately. That and toast with avocado, smoked sea salt, and pepper are my lunchtime obsessions.
Back to the peanut butter and jelly. I used to find peanut butter kinda scary. It was sooo high-calorie and so high-fat! I tried to get away with spreading as little of it as possible on my sandwiches and, consequently, never savored that peanut butter’d up sticky mouth feeling.
Nowadays, no one can tell me to use less peanut butter, or any nut butter for that matter. Those are healthy fats and useful calories, especially for a vegetarian! The same goes for baking with nut butters. I purposely bought a two-pack of giant PB jars at Costco so I could bake with it. Otherwise, one PB-containing recipe can use up most of a jar!
Determined to bake something other than 5-minute-a-day bread last week, I broke out the giant peanut butter jar, some grape jam, and some oats for a batch of granola bars. It’s been quite a while since I made granola bars last and I’ve never found a recipe that I really, really love. This one comes close. The bars held together. They’re fully on the healthy side of the spectrum (in my opinion) and they’re beautiful to look at!
After a sample, I carried these over the hill to Lee’s work, where hungry engineers promptly devoured them. This was my second walk of the day with Doc, who was thrilled to go on a granola bar delivery. The weather in San Francisco was summer-like for a couple of days last week and I did not let it go to waste. Come to think of it, isn’t there something about summer weather, PB&J, and granola bars that fits together? It’s like a deconstructed childhood memory centered around summer camp lunchboxes and snacks eaten on the grass.
I couldn’t make these bars without including an unusual ingredient. I think they owe at least some of their deliciousness to the leftover sweet potato I mashed into the mix.
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup wheat bran (or wheat germ, or oat bran, if you prefer)
- 1/2 a baked sweet potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4-1/3 cup honey (more if you like things sweeter)
- 1 "flax egg" (2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons water)
- About 1/3 cup grape jam
- Additional 1/4 cup oats for topping
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a square or rectangular baking dish with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together flax seed meal and water, set aside.
- In a larger bowl, mash sweet potato.
- Add honey, peanut butter, and "flax egg" to sweet potato, mixing well.
- Add oats and wheat bran, stirring until mixture is evenly moist.
- Spread peanut butter-oat mixture into prepared pan, flattening it with a spatula or spoon.
- Spoon jam on top and and spread evenly over peanut butter-oats.
- Sprinkle reserved oats and coconut over the jam.
- Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown at the edges.
- Remove pan from oven, lift bars out with parchment paper and cool on a wire rack.
- When bars are partially cool, place them on a cutting board (parchment and all) and cut into squares.
- You can put the bars back on the rack to cool, with or without the parchment. I kept mine on the parchment for easy transport and cleanup.