I made these healthy New Year’s resolution-approved snack bars for my health-conscious aunt’s birthday last weekend. (She works as a nurse, eats right and runs like crazy!) They are like a thicker, fluffier granola bar packed with old-fashioned oats, almonds, dates and cranberries. These treats will fill you up with no added oils, butter or eggs. They are sweetened mainly with applesauce and dried fruits.
Granola is a popular breakfast and snack food containing rolled (old-fashioned) oats and sometimes sweeteners, puffed rice, nuts, seeds, dried fruits or chocolate which are all mixed together and baked until crisp. Granola bars are made of granola and are packed into a pan and then baked. Granola is a common snack for those camping, hiking or backpacking because it is lightweight, nutritious, high in calories and requires no refrigeration or cooking.
As early as the 19th century, granula and granola were trademarked terms in the US for foods consisting of crumbled whole grain products. Granula, made of graham flour, was invented in 1863 by New Yorker Dr. James Caleb Jackson at the Jackson Sanitarium. That’s unexpected. The sanitarium was also called Our Home on the Hillside so the company formed to sell Jackson’s creation was called the Our Home Granula Company. John Harvey Kellogg created a similar cereal which was also called granula but the name was eventually changed to granola to avoid copyright concerns.
In the 1960s, granola began to include fruits and nuts and became popular with the hippie movement. Layton Gentry claimed to have made the first granola containing oats around this time. He sold the rights for this recipe to Sovex Natural Foods. The first commercial granola, Heartland Natural Cereal, was introduced in 1972. This was soon followed by versions from Quaker, Kellogg and General Mills.
Apple Go Bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup flour
½ cup roasted almonds, ground in food processor
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried dates, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
Mix oats, flour, almond meal, baking soda and spices.
Mix in applesauce, sugar and vanilla.
Mix in remaining ingredients.
Press into bottom of greased 8” square baking pan.
Bake at 300° F for 30 minutes or until center is set.
Cool on wire rack and cut into 16 squares.