I am constantly looking out for good desk-breakfast ideas. After I got into a serious breakfast biscuit habit earlier this year, I made an effort to quit with the super sugary, processed foods first thing and make my own. So for a while now – pretty much since this post – I’ve been enjoying granola, yogurt and fruit. It’s been months now, and I’m still not sick of it.
But sometimes, it’s not the most practical breakfast. It doesn’t work if I’m spending the day on the road, or come in straight to a meeting. So I’ve been pondering other, more portable options, and it was about this time that Holland & Barrett came to my rescue, challenging me to make something with Manuka Honey and ingredients from the Holland & Barrett website.
And that is the story of how I came to make granola bars this weekend. Granted, it’s not my best story ever. There’s no romantic lead and it could really do with more of a twist in the tale, but it has a happy ending because these are DELICIOUS. The beauty of getting the ingredients in Holland & Barrett meant that I could go crazy on seeds, grains and good things – and I totally did. These are rather decadent granola bars. They’re bound together by honey, brown sugar and butter, so not the healthiest things EVER, but because there are so many healthy things in there, I feel like it’s okay.
This is the first time I’ve made anything with Manuka Honey, and I must say I understand all the hype. It is not the cheapest ingredient you’ll ever use, let’s just put that out there. But it tastes incredible and has loads of health benefits - it's high in antibacterial properties, can improve digestion and can even be applied directly to burns and other skin ailments. But let's go back to the taste. It’s darker, thicker and more treacly than honey usually is – and when melted with butter and brown sugar to make the caramel that binds these bars together, it’s mind blowing. So while these bars would be perfectly fine with normal honey, you won’t get that depth of flavour that you get with Manuka. I could taste it in every bite, and it made my sort-of-healthy breakfast feel like a real treat.
Manuka Honey Granola Bars
Recipe adapted from The Domestic Gothess
225g porridge oats
70g pumpkin seeds
60g puffed brown rice cereal
75g whole almonds or other whole nut
100g brown sugar
150g Manuka honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
40g golden linseeds (optional)
40g chia seeds (optional)
70g dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
30g goji berries (optional)
75g dark chocolate chips (optional)
Note: You can mix and match the nuts, seeds and berries included, or just stick to oats if you wish (just up the quantity to replace what you leave out)
Makes 16 bars at approx. 260 calories a bar
1. Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4.
2. Optional step: spread the oats, pumpkin seeds and linseeds on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.
3. Line a large tin (mine was approx. 30cm long) with baking parchment. Leave some overhanging to lift the bars out later.
4. In a large bowl, combine the puffed rice, almonds, chia seeds, cranberries, goji berries and the toasted oats, pumpkin seeds and linseeds and mix it all together with your hands.
5. In a small pan, place the butter, sugar and honey and heat on a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved, stirring often. Bring up to the boil and allow to bubble furiously for a minute or so, then remove from the heat.
6. Stir in the cinnamon and salt to the caramel mixture, then pour over the oat mixture, stirring until well combined. Make sure you try a bit of the caramel before you wash the pan – YUM, right?
7. Allow to cool for around 10 minutes, then stir through the chopped chocolate.
8. Pour the mixture into your tin in an even layer, then pack down firmly using a fish slice, palette knife or even the base of a glass. Once it’s cooled, place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour until completely cold.
9. Lift the slab out using the parchment, then cut into sixteen slices using a sharp knife.
10. You can store at room temp for up to 2 weeks, or in the fridge for up to a month.
One of these bars is a perfectly good breakfast for me, and I pack two for Matt. It’s such a yummy mix of flavours and textures, and so much nicer than a store-bought cereal bar!
Holland and Barrett kindly covered the cost of my ingredients.