Creativity Bars

Okay, so maybe these could be called Creative Energy Bars, but I like the sound of Creativity Bars because you get to use your creativity in making them.

Let's face it, every single one of us is creative in our own ways. There are some days when the only thing I want to create is food. I usually start with a recipe and then "riff" off it by changing and adding ingredients.

This basic recipe came from the Sunday newspaper column by Three Many Cooks blogger Pam Anderson and her daughters, Sharon and Maggy. Here is the basic recipe:

2 C rolled Oats
1/2 C wheat germ
1 C sliced almonds
1/2 C semi-sweet or bittersweet chips
1/2 C dried cherries or craisins
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

Adjust the oven rack to a lower/middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. Grease a 9" square pan and then line the pan bottom and up the sides with foil — also greased. This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan once they are baked.

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl, turn into the pan, pat down, and bake for 30 min. Cool to room temperature and then put the pan into the freezer. When the bars are firm, use the foil handles to remove them from the pan. Remove the foil and use a long, sharp knife to cut the bars into 18 1"x3" pieces. These will keep in an airtight container for one week, or in the freezer for much longer (you will probably eat them up before they have the chance to go bad).

Here comes the CREATIVE part:
The first time I made these I didn't have sweetened condensed milk; I had evaporated milk. I heated up the milk and melted 1 C of sugar into it. I added some unsweetened carob chips to that mixture before stirring it into the dry ingredients. This made for a chewier bar because there was more moisture in it. YUM.

The second time I made them I didn't have wheat germ so I added freshly ground flax seeds, extra oats, and unsweetened coconut flakes. This time I used sweetened condensed milk and omitted the carob chips. YUM again!

The third time I made them I ran out of craisins so I used prunes and left the almonds whole. I know, look at me getting BOLD!

EVERYONE who eats these likes them. The original recipe said it made 16 pieces (each 1"x4" — I'm getting 18 pieces instead), each with 206 calories, 31g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 8g fat (3g saturated), 8mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 32mg sodium. I haven't figured out the sugar content, but one a day is probably okay.

Have fun and please let me know what kinds of creative changes you make to your Creativity Bars!