Granola bars are very popular in our household. Scott loves to grab them for a quick breakfast in the morning on his way to work and Jackson and I like them as a great afternoon snack. But goodness, they are expensive AND probably 90% of them have gobs of ingredients I don't feel good about my family eating; high fructose corn syrup, tons of preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings....yack. I know I can do better then that, and in turn save us some money too!
Turns out I was right- these things are delicious. They weren't overly sweet, but just right and would be wonderful with a glass of ice cold milk or a cup of coffee. These were my first batch, but I am already a firm believer. I won't be buying store bought boxed granola bars ever again. You can alter this recipe using whatever mix-ins you happen to have on hand. I can't wait to try out different combinations to get fun, new flavors. Be creative!
Print this Recipe
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut (we LOVED this in them!)
1 cup sunflower seeds
4 Tablspoons sesame seeds
1 cup nuts of your choice (I somehow had no nuts in my house, so I went without. I would have loved to put almonds in here. oh well, next time!)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup honey or 100% pure maple syrup (I used honey this time)
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon water
1 cup dried fruit (I used a combination of cranberries, strawberries, blueberries raisins and dates)
1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini)
Preheat the oven to 325. Line a square 8" baking pan with 2 crisscrossed rectangles of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at 2 opposite ends. The overhang is what will assist you in lifting the granola out of the pan for cutting.
Combine the oats, coconut, seeds and nuts and spread them out evenly on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. When the oat mixture has been toasting for about 10 minutes, combine the honey, peanut butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, oil and water in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar.
When the oat mixture is done toasting, transfer it to a large bowl and add the honey mixture and fruit; stir to incorporate. Spread evenly in bottom of pan, pressing down to create a smooth, even top.
Bake the granola mixture for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After about a half and hour, press down again super HARD to make sure everything sticks together and you can get nice, firm bars. A measuring cup works well for this.
Let cool completely. I am serious here. I know it is insanely tempting, but if you cut them too soon they will crumble everywhere and they won't be granola bars anymore. Just granola. I waited a full 5 hours before cutting them. Since I had to work this evening, I held off until I came home. You don't need to wait that long, but I would recommend waiting at least 2-3 hours before trying to cut them apart.
Once cool, lift out of pan using paper as handles. Cut into one-inch wide bars with a large, sharp knife. Then, cut them again in half lengthwise. Store in an airtight container. If you aren't going to eat them all within a week, be sure to refrigerate or freeze them. There are no preservatives in these, so they won't last forever and a lifetime in your pantry like the store bought kinds.