For two years I bugged my friend for her grandmother’s granola bar recipe. “Erica! I finally found my recipe!” she emailed one day, and that was two years ago. So last night, approximately four years after the idea’s inception, my plans finally came to fruition when I made these bars—adapted to include wild ingredients, of course.
These chewy wild granola bars have some stuff in them that’s real good for you, and other stuff that’s not so much good for you—but they make a ridiculously delicious pocket snack. And of course you can use all manner of wild seeds, fruits, and nuts.
I collected the rosehips (Rosa sp.) in March while waiting for a snowboarding colleague at a ride share lot. It required tromping through two feet of snow, and I took just a small handful of the wrinkled fruits that were still on the bush from fall.
To make the “raisins,” I washed them vigorously and cut the hips at the two ends to remove the excess plant material, then slit their bellies open to scrape out the seeds with my knife. Then I cut the skins into pieces and voila—rosehip raisins! Bonus that nature handled all the drying for me.
Evening Primrose Seeds
I had collected the evening primrose seeds (Oenothera sp.) in November with my friend Butter. They grew intermingled with cattails at the edge of a pond in Denver’s outskirts, and she snapped the spires and stuffed them in my bag, the tiny seeds collecting down below.
“Evening primrose seed oil contains the highest amount of gamma-linolenic acid of any known food substance,” Sam Thayer writes in The Forager’s Harvest (2006), citing Balch and Balch (1997).
An omega-6 fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid has health benefits from treatment of ADHD and depression to that of high cholesterol and rheumatoid arthritis, among others. Hence evening primrose oil is used as a supplement. But “while millions of dollars are spent on evening primrose oil annually, it is very easy to collect the seeds on your own for free,” Thayer writes.
For the much pared-down recipe I mixed 2 cups oats, 1 Tbsp evening primrose seeds, and the rosehip raisins in a baking dish and set it in a 350 degree oven. The recipe said to leave them in for 12 to 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they browned. At 5 minutes, however, my rosehip raisins were starting to turn brown, so I pulled the pan out and meticulously picked them out. I think next time I’ll drop them into the oven mixture for the last 3 minutes of toasting.
Meanwhile, on the stove, I melted 4 Tbsp butter with ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup honey, and 2 tsp vanilla, then transferred the toasted oat mixture and rosehips to a mixing bowl and poured the stuff over it, mixing thoroughly. After that it was into a shallow pan with the sticky lot, which I pressed down with a meat tenderizer as I was lacking baking paper. As it cooled, we cut it into squares and gorged ourselves on nearly half the gooey panful of yum.
The next morning, the bars were firmer, but still chewy. They are such a delight that I can’t keep my hands off them, even though Gregg hasn’t gotten his equal share and is unlikely to. I’m the one who made them after all.