In search of the perfect muesli bar recipe…
I know it’s popular to compare fat and sugar levels of shop bought muesli bars, and yes, despite their healthy image, in some cases you might as well be eating a chocolate bar! For me though, it’s the actual ingredient list that matters. Many popular brands have very low quality, highly refined ingredients, artificial additives and fruit that isn’t really fruit!
The only brand that I am happy to have in my pantry for snack time emergencies is Carman’s. With just a simple list of wholesome ingredients, there isn’t much to raise the alarm bells (and they don’t cost the earth in comparison to some upmarket gourmet brands).
Ideally, of course, it’s best to bake your own and take control of exactly what goes into them. Sadly though, not all of my muesli bar baking efforts have been successful, often ending up with a pile of muesli ‘rubble’ rather than nicely turned out bars!
My latest effort was inspired by Bill Granger’s recipe ‘Real Muesli Bars’ from Everyday Food. I took the liberty of adapting it somewhat, including the addition of extra flavourings like vanilla, cinnamon and orange rind – and the result was pretty good. Even Sophie tucked in to them with relish!
They are packed with great ingredients, each providing a variety of fantastic nutrients (including quality fats, protein and heaps of fibre). Keep in mind that they are also energy dense, so a little goes a long way!
You can download and print out my recipe here.
Variations you could try:
- use a combination of the oats with other grains such as rolled rye, spelt or barley
- the type of honey you use will affect the end result – either mild or richer in flavour and aroma.
- i’ve added nut butter for extra depth and flavour, but you could easily leave it out.
- try different combinations of fruits and nuts, such as dried peach with pecan; dried pear with pistachio; dried berries with hazelnuts; dried apple, date & walnuts with extra spices; macadamia, mango, pineapple with extra coconut. Use your imagination!
- for a little extra decadence add some good quality dark chocolate chips (particularly nice with dried berries) or white chocolate chips (with apricot).
- Depending on how finely you chop your fruits and nuts, the result will either be more refined or more rustic and crunchy.
I was able to source all the ingredients for these bars at my local major supermarket. Try the health food aisle for Rice Malt Syrup (basically a honey substitute), spelt flour, nut butters, organic coconut and organic fruits (Woolworths Macro Organic range are particularly good for these sorts of ingredients when available!) Failing that, your local health food shop or organic store should have adequate supplies (also of a variety of cold pressed oils if you can’t find macadamia oil at the supermarket). These are all the sorts of ingredients I tend to have on hand for making muesli and granola, so large packets don’t pose a problem!
Another online source of lovely dried fruits is Whisk & Pin – a little on the pricy side, but all natural and preservative free if you’re looking for something a little special.
If you are looking for more ideas for wholesome ‘lunchbox’ snacks, here is a link to more of Bill Granger’s recipes. (We do love Bill!)