This month, I am participating in Blue Collar Crunch's Diet for Hunger challenge and am trying, among other things, to get the junk out of my junk food.
Making junk food at home gives me - not Kraft - control. I can avoid the ubiquitous corn syrup, Frankenstein additives and genetically modified "food". My cookies also have a smaller footprint because they include as many local ingredients as possible. Local butter is easy to find - or make if you have local cream. My health food store stocks locally milled flours and baking ingredients, like dry milk, baking powder, and yeast, and I often substitute local honey for a quarter to one half of the sugar called for in a recipe.
For more exotic ingredients, like spices, sugar and chocolate, I can still make a better choice than Hershey's. Child labor/slavery, pesticides and massive deforestation are the not-so-sweet side effects that can be ameliorated by choosing organic, fair trade chocolate and unrefined, organic, fair trade sugar helps avoid the bitter poverty and environmental destruction of sugar production. Fair trade and organic spices are also often available. Finally, buying in bulk reduces packaging waste. Natural and health food stores often carry organic, fair trade ingredients in their bulk section. I bring my own plastic zip lock bags for reuse over and over.
What can you do with all these delectable ingredients? Go granola, of course.
HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS:
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ (I substitute with whatever local flour I have on hand)
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons oil
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or raisins
Oil a 9 by 13 inch pan. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, using hands if necessary to ensure that all ingredients are evenly moist. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Bake 18-22 minutes in oven set to 325 degrees.
MY MOM'S HOMEMADE GRANOLA RECIPE:
1 cup raw cashews or other raw nuts
1/2 cup raw sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
8 cups rolled oats
2 cups soy flour
1 cup whole wheat or rice flour
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup oil mixed with 1 1/2 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend liquid ingredients then mix with dry ingredients. Crumble and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then 200 degrees - stirring every 15 minutes until golden brown.
3 ounces baking chocolate
3 cups milk
1/4 cup tapioca or potato starch
1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup honey (2 Tablespoons each if chocolate is sweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook 2 2/3 cups milk and chocolate, in saucepan, stirring until milk is scalded and chocolate is melted. Mix starch, sugar/honey, and salt into remaining milk and then add to scaled milk/chocolate mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth.
OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES:
1 cup butter (room temp)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups quick cooked oats
1 1/2 cups flour
Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on 350 for 13-15 minutes.