bearmouse Savory Granola Bar

In food on 08/30/2009 at 2:15 pm

One time, bearmouse sent a bunch of us an email asking us to fill out a survey for a project her brother was doing for school. It queried our preferences when it came to eating nutritional granola/protein bars, whether we leaned toward savory or sweet. He was making a prototype of a granola bar with tea as the main flavor.

I thought if this product came on the market, it would surely be a hit for anyone looking for an alternative to the overly-saccharine products already on the shelves. It seems someone beat him to the punch, though after perusing the ingredients listed, it is still leaning sweet.

These days I am eating at least two or three granola bars a day. They are just so convenient and discreet to gobble down, on the subway, running to the hospital, in between errands. I’ve been mostly eating the chewy peanut butter ones sold at Trader Joes, but they melt from the pressure of being at the bottom of my backpack.

Then I tried eating a bunch of mixed nuts in a Ziploc bag, but I just ended up picking out the big ones. Clumsily scooping out the small ones and dropping them into my mouth is messier than you think it would be. One thing about a bar with all the different stuff stuck together is the range of flavors that hits your tongue at the same time. It’s not the same when it’s loose in a bag.

Also, when I don’t get my Asian food fix after a few days, I start foaming at the mouth. The ideal bar I want to make would contain the least amount of sweet possible (but that usually translates to the ingredient that binds the bar together), be savory in an Asian way, and be a satisfying meal replacement (i.e. lots of QQ to satiate my oral fixation). Maybe the final product would be a combination of mochi-meets-nuts & grains?

The survey got my wheels churning. I asked bearmouse to get the winning recipe for me from her brother, but was told that he actually wants to make and market them, so I turned to the Internet for ideas. One blog talks about concocting an Indian version, using tamarind paste and egg replacer. Indians have a whole industry based on fried bits mixed together on the spot with a savory-sweet chutney, but that would be too messy to eat on-the-go.

I looked up ‘egg replacer’ on a veggie site and found out the first two ingredients were potato starch and tapioca flour starch. These made me think of Taiwanese New Year’s glutinous rice flour cake, which is basically a sticky base perfect for adding nuts n’ things. I would cut out most of the sugar though.

Different variations I will work on as my special ingredient:
1. matcha green tea powder
2. furikake (that seaweed mix that you put on rice)
3. curry or garam masala powder
4. bacon! (crispy bits)
5. jasmine or oolong tea, mashed with a mortar and pestle (since I’m going to eat the actual leaf, I’m using Ito En or Ten Ren equivalent quality tea)
6. durian (mashed up fruit and 1 tsp extract)
7. Worcestershire sauce
8. BBQ smokey
9. seafood (like shrimp chips or asam laksa)
10 tamarind (paste)
11. pandan, aka screwpine leaf
12. Parmesan
13. ramen (those cheap fried bags of a block of noodle, but an Asian brand)
14. herbal soup

These all have one thing in common: umami, the flavor that satisfies. Unfortunately, that’s the thing that’s usually lacking in American cuisine and granola bars.

Here’s the basic recipe base to make 3-4 cups total:
mix of your favorite nuts (I like Brazil nuts, filberts, pepitas, sesame)
rolled oats (if you are lazy, Ikea museli works in a pinch)
dried cranberries or blueberries (pick your fruit)
wheat germ or flaxseed
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
*special ingredient see above*

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the nuts, oats, wheat germ and starch in a bowl in the proportions you like.

Spread the mixture onto a sheet pan. Toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the binder:
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
black pepper
3 limes’ zest

In the meantime, combine these ingredients in a bowl.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat/nuts mixture to the liquid mixture. Add the dried fruit and special ingredient, and stir to combine.

Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down evenly. Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Cut into squares or bars, and wrap individually with saran wrap. Congrats, you have now become a savory granola bar ninja.
hi-YA! smash that hunger

  1. Whats the shelf life you think on one of these? i store my granola bars inthe fridge anyway, but using fresh egg in a granola bar seems a little like cheating to me.

  2. With anything that contains no preservatives, eating it fresh is best. But if you want to stash, I would say one week. Eggs are used as the binder in all sorts of cooking and baking.

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