Chopped Junior-Inspired Lunchboxes: Quick Granola Bars

Inspired by the Chopped Junior mystery baskets, here's a recipe for quick and easy granola bars.
By Angela Carlos

This week the Chopped Junior contestants proved that sometimes the best culinary experiences come together at the last minute. From two foods — the minute steaks that transported former major league ballplayer Jason Varitek back to childhood, and the just-a-minute-overcooked sauce from young chef Tavia that Chef Kristen Kish simply loved (a happy accident!) — we learned how important a minute can be in creating the perfect dish.

Much like this competition, real life gives you negative minutes to pull lunch together before you dash out the door in the morning. In the final round, Tavia's and Lillie’s desserts did more than impress us — their dishes inspired this week’s lunchbox idea. Lillie’s use of pistachios with the mystery basket cherries and crumbly shortbread led us right to the best grab-and-go item of all: granola bars.

We used her flavor profile for our simple granola bars that you can mix up the night before and toss in your lunchbox the next morning.

Combine about 5 parts oats, nuts and seeds with 1 part syrup. We made our syrup by using a little butter to dissolve honey and dark brown sugar, and used sesame seeds, cashews and pistachios along with quick-cooking oats for the dry ingredients. Stir in your preferred amount of dried fruits before pouring the warm syrup over the oat mixture. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and press your mixture into the dish. Bake at 300 degrees F for about 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting and wrapping each bar in parchment for an easy treat to pack in your lunchbox.

Watch Chopped Junior on Tuesdays at 8|7c, and come back next Wednesday for a new lunchbox idea.

Photo by Angela Carlos
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