Ellie Krieger Granola Bars

I'm going to interpret "cook" in this one pretty loosely.    Because currently I want to learn how to make my own granola bars.  More Betty Crocker than Wolfgang Puck, I know.  But since most store-brand granola bars are candy bars in disguise, I like the idea that I could make my own with only the good stuff...real, pronounceable ingredients. I started with a recipe from Food Network's Ellie Krieger.  I figure she's got some street cred :)  

Part of Ellie's philosophy is that we should never consider a food off limits, or let it evoke a feeling of guilt.  As a result, her recipes are built on a consistent pyramid--she starts with the most wholesome ingredients as the base (she coins these "Usually" foods), adds in few ingredients that, although delicious, fall on the B-team nutritionally ("Sometimes" foods), and once in a while will strategically place some tiny amounts of decadent ingredients ("Rarely" foods).

Her recipe for granola bars was true to her Usually/Sometimes/Rarely pyramid:

Ingredients all laid out and ready to go.

The Method  (Full recipe from link above)

Combine dry ingredients:

Combine Dry Ingredients

Combine wet ingredients:

Combine Wet Ingredients

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.   Add the cherries (I used cranberries) and walnuts.

Combine Wet & Dry ingredients + add ins

After the mixture is combined, you bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  As the bars are baking, put the preserves over high heat and bring them to a boil.  The heated preserves gets spread over the bars as soon as they come out of the oven, giving them a fruity "frosting".

Spread the jam "frosting"

Finished Product

The Verdict

I wanted so badly to like these bars, but they just were kind of...like a flavorless mouthful of wheat flour.  The mother, on the other hand, loved them.  I guess that's just as well, because otherwise the whole batch would have gone to waste :)

On the bright side, I know what to look for in my next attempt.  While this had a stellar ingredient list, the consistency and texture were off.  I'm looking for something chewy with a more textured base.  This was too baked good-esque, and had the same mouth drying effect of eating a saltine.

The search continues...