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Next up from my picnic menu favourites is a granola bar recipe. I had been looking for a good granola bar recipe for a while, but most of them seem to have a page long list of ingredients which makes them kind of expensive and kind of a pain. Then, while I was looking for something else among my bookmarked items on my iphone, I came across one I had saved ages ago and then forgotten about (I tend to do that). It’s a really easy recipe by Nigella Lawson, with few but good ingredients that suit each other beautifully. These bars are great to nibble on as a snack, or take with you if you’re running out the door with no time for a proper breakfast. I doubt they’re particularly diet-friendly, but they are definitely healthy (or healthier than my usual snacks!).

When I made these for the picnic I also made a batch of my favourite granola to have over the duration of my cousin’s stay. This is by far the best of all the granolas I have tried to make, with just the right consistency for my taste (sort of clumpy but not very). Again, it’s one of the healthier versions, with olive oil and honey rather than butter, sugar etc. The original recipe by The Cilantropist (inspired by Healthy Green Kitchen and Saveur) involves cooking it at low heat over a long period of time. It’s getting hotter by the day here in Athens, so having the oven on all day doesn’t appeal to me, not to mention the fear of my electricity bill – so I just cook it for about half an hour, or until it looks golden but not brown! The way I like to eat it is with buttermilk. A friend from work whom I will call The Granola Addict once mentioned that this is how she likes hers and I was quite surprised. I’d never even considered it. I knew some people drink buttermilk but for me it was something I put in cakes and nothing more. Well… good job I tried it. It’s delicious. I highly recommend you try it. Here are both recipes.

Granola Bars (recipe by Nigella)
What you’ll need
1 can (400g) sweet condensed milk
250g rolled oats (not quick cooking)
75g shredded coconut
100g dried cranberries
125g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax – all or any combo)
125g peanuts (original recipe calls for natural unsalted; we can’t get those easily here so I used regular roasted salted peanuts which I rinsed with water and let dry to get rid of the excess salt. I’ll leave them with the salt on next time, I think it will make it taste even more interesting)

What you do

  1. Preheat oven to 130C and grease a small baking tin (mine is 18×24.5cm).
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  3. In a small saucepan heat the condensed milk till it’s quite hot but not boiling.
  4. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well till everything is coated with the milk. It’s best if you use a rubber spatula as this won’t stick to the mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the tin and spread it out evenly (with the spatula). Press it down well.
  6. Bake for about an hour.
  7. Remove and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Then cut into pieces according to your preference. It’s very important that you remember to cut it when it’s still warm, otherwise it gets a bit difficult!
  8. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

It keeps fantastically well!

Coconut and Cranberry Granola (original recipe by The Cilantropist)
What you’ll need
3 ½ cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sesame seeds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp all-spice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

What you do

  1. Line two baking trays with grease proof (parchment) paper. Preheat oven to 150C.
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients except the cranberries and pumpkin seeds. I always add these at the end so they don’t go hard or burn while cooking.
  3. Warm the oil and honey together in a small saucepan or the microwave. If using the microwave heat in blasts of 30 seconds mixing well in between. You want the mixture to become very runny.
  4. Pour the oil and honey over the dry ingredients and mix well so that they are all well coated.
  5. Spread the mixture out on the baking trays and distribute evenly. I press it down a bit so it sticks together slightly. This way I can break it up into lovely clumps afterwards.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or as long as it takes to turn a golden colour. Do not let it brown. Once golden it takes only a few seconds to burn, so pay attention!
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. Break it up, add the cranberries and pumpkin seeds, and transfer to an airtight container.

This also keeps very well, although it’ll probably be gone before you need to worry about it!