Raising the Bar

Definitely Delicious

By Terri Windover, Connect Columnist

Raise the bar and go beyond the prepackaged breakfast op- tions in this week’s Definitely Delicious recipe. Photo by Terri Win- dover, Connect Weekly

Raise the bar and go beyond the prepackaged breakfast options in this week’s Definitely Delicious recipe. Photo by Terri Windover, Connect Weekly.

They are everywhere! Those generic – mass produced – cereal bars that fill the store shelves with an endless variety of flavours and options.

I remember when Shyla was little I would pick a few kinds up here and there for her lunch bag. It was “easy” and took very little thought or effort. Just toss them in the cart and presto, snack time is covered.

Then, of course, I threw a few in my lunch bag and let’s say I was completely unimpressed by them. Most of them tasted and looked almost identical. They smelled like… nothing.

To me, there is nothing worse than food that leaves me uninspired and bored. I mean, where is the tang of the real fruit and the texture of real oatmeal and yogurt? Prepackaged just doesn’t cut it when compared to the homemade kind.

Our biggest complaint as parents becomes the “I don’t have the time” excuse. In a world of kids’ sports, after school activities and wine nights with the girls, we end up looking at the stove mumbling: “Maybe next week?”, as we toss another generic bar into our kids lunch bags.

Enter these delicious and super-easy-to-make homemade squares of heaven. I usually double this recipe as they disappear faster than a teenager at chore time.

Personally, I use frozen wild fruit I pick out at our camp like low bush cranberries or blueberries. It makes for a gooier bar, but mmm, mmm… it’s totally worth it for the flavour. Your kids will be raving about these and they may never let you lower the bar to store bought again.

For more FREE recipes and nutrition info along with my sometimes rude but usually true rants and raves visit www.therantingcook.com

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Crust
• 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
• 1 cup quick-cooking oats
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I use coconut sugar)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 6 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons orange juice
• Cooking spray

Filling
• 1 1/3 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
• 3/4 cup fat free sour cream
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
• 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve 1/2 cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. To prepare filling, combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

NOTE: I used frozen wild low bush cranberries I had in the freezer. They came out delicious, but quite a bit moister and needed longer to set completely while cooling.

Options
Cherry-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries and lemon rind for the orange rind in filling.
Maple-Date-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute chopped pitted dates for the dried cranberries. Omit granulated sugar from filling, and add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

– Connect Weekly –