I can't believe how warm it's been. Like May in January, and from what I've read, it's been unseasonably warm all over the country. C had only a few days before he went back to school, and I couldn't let the beautiful weather pass us by without a hike through our mountain zoo. My muscles, having barely moved since last summer, were aching for the work, and after being cooped up inside for so long during the holiday season I really needed to be outside in the fresh mountain air. In fact, I was so looking forward to our day at the zoo that, on Monday night, I set my alarm early so that I could make a big batch of granola bars to take with us.
After a cup of good coffee, I spent the quiet part of the morning, before the kids awoke, baking the granola bars we'd enjoy later. It was peaceful and unhurried. I haven't baked by myself for so long that I'd forgotten what it was like to not be constantly interrupted and questioned. I watched the sun rise through my kitchen window and tint the sleepy world pink.
Fresh, homemade granola bars are amazing. Especially if they are still warm out of the oven. These granola bars are one of my favorite travel foods. They keep well and travel nicely. They're nutritious and filling, and the perfect finger food for a day trip to the zoo. I always make these with cranberries, and I had some peanut-free white chocolate chips (which I order from here) left over from the holidays, so I add those to this batch as well.
The pre-made granola bars in the grocery store are never safe for people with nut allergies. Here in the States they all either contain nuts or are processed with them. If you live in one of those countries that segregates nut and peanut ingredients, I envy you.
We ate our simple picnic of cheese, granola bars, and apple juice, while listening to the sounds of roosters crowing and peacocks cawing.
I love being here. You can see for miles . . .
And who can resist the magical allure of an old-fashioned carousel? Its enchanting music can be heard throughout to zoo . . .
This carousel was constructed in 1926 and made it's debut at the 1932 World's Fair! What a treasure to have so close!
When I'm traveling with these granola bars, I wrap them individually in parchment paper and then seal them in a Ziploc bag. They are soft and a little sticky on the bottom.
Nut-Free Cranberry and White Chocolate Granola Bars
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (nut-free)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
Preheat your oven to 330 F (165 C), and line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with foil. Spray the foil well with non-stick cooking spray. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the wheat germ, stirring constantly, until fragrant and "nutty." Remove from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl along with the oats, cranberries, white chocolate chips, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well. In a smaller bowl or measuring cup whisk the oil, honey, and egg. Add the wet to the dry and mix well. Pour into the baking pan and spread evenly. Lightly wet your finger tips and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool in the pan until set, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.
P.S. I need your help deciding on a name for this blog! Please tell me what you think.