This past Thanksgiving was the first year I spent without my mom or sisters. Moving to the other side of the country meant forgoing the big family get-togethers over the holidays. Not only did I really miss spending the holiday with my family, it meant that I had to do all of the cooking. By myself. And cooking is not my favorite thing to do.
I really only cook because I love to eat. I don’t like all the chaos of lots of ingredients, the measuring, and all the steps involved. Recipes with as few ingredients as possible is a little more my speed.
But to make a Thanksgiving as close to normal as possible for the kids, it was all up to me. If I was going to get through this, I decided to actually do the one thing that all good cooks are supposed to do: prep and measure all the ingredients ahead of time. Mise en place! When it’s time for the actual cooking, dropping in each ingredient should be a breeze, right?
Turns out it totally is, and I made it through Thanksgiving dinner unscathed! (That, and I used the simplest, most fool-proof plan for to Thanksgiving dinner that I’ve ever seen. I have to say this menu rocks.)
If I could do that, then surely I could pull out some of those favorite more-than-five-ingredient recipes I gave up on long ago.
A throwback recipe for healthy snack bars
The first one I grabbed was this recipe for Backpacker Bars. I went to these first because I wanted healthy snack bars to mix things up from the store-bought granola bars for the kids. My mom used to make these when we were kids, and as much as I loved them, I rarely make them anymore. Now armed with a little trick to make it a whole lot easier, I decided to dust off the recipe from my mom and give it another shot.
I love these Backpacker Bars because they are like trail mix and a cookie all in one. Made with oatmeal, wheat germ, and whole wheat flour, they pack in some nutrition too.these homemade #snack bars are #healthy and portable for camping, #hiking, or picnics! Click To Tweet
Of course, measuring and prepping all of the ingredients in advance make these bars so easy – especially if you get the kids in to help. My youngest read off the ingredients as I gathered everything together. I was also able to sneak in a little lesson in fractions by having her give me the amounts as I chopped and measured. (We had a few close calls with 1/2 vs. 1 1/2 – but we got through it!)
Just Mix, Bake, and pack them up!
The crust is like a cookie meets pie, with orange zest mixed in. Just a little bit of orange zest brightens the flavor so much.
After mixing the crust, pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Make sure to press firmly on the crust to pack it down well so it doesn’t get too crumbly after baking.
The dried fruits and nuts in the topping is like a trail mix baked right in. It reminds me so much of camping!Backpacker Bars are an easy alternative to store-bought granola bars for #afterschool snacks Click To Tweet
The chocolate will be really gooey after baking, so don’t skip the cooling! Once cooled, cut into small bars. These are thick and they are rich, so I cut them pretty small. One inch squares are the perfect size to grab 1 or 2 for a snack. Make them portable – by individually wrap the cut squares and drop into lunch boxes, picnic baskets, or backpacks!
These healthy snack bars are great for breakfast – and even dessert! (Find more breakfast ideas in this post!)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (divided into 1 C and 1/2 C)
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 4 tsp orange zest
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups whole almonds
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dates chopped
- 1/2 cup dried apricots chopped
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Mix the butter and 1 cup of brown sugar in a large bowl, until well blended
Add the flours, oats, wheat germ, and orange zest, and stir until well mixed.
Spread mixture into 9x13 pan and press with your hands or flat-bottomed glass until well packed down. If not well packed down, the bars will be a bit crumbly.
Mix remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and spread evenly over crust.
Bake bars for 30-35 minutes, until browned.
Let cool, then cut into bars.