Honey and Oat Granola Bars

I like granola bars. I like them because they’re a quick snack you can grab on your way out the door. I like that many IMG_7723of them are filled with grains and nuts giving you energy and leaving you feeling pretty satisfied. And my kids like them which is a huge bonus. That being said, most of the granola bars you find in grocery stores have tons of ingredients with all sorts of additives and preservatives and refined sugars and flours so I won’t buy them. The exception to that is the Lara bar. But only me and my 2 year old will eat the Lara bar. Not even my husband will eat it! So what’s a girl to do? Make your own! I have a couple of different recipes I like to use and this is one of them. The puffed brown rice cereal you can find at health food stores and some Walmarts on the cereal aisle. And at my Walmart, you can buy the whole bag for $1. The only other ingredient in here that I think may require a little explanation is the medjool dates. You can buy them at most grocery stores (Costco carries them too!) in the produce section. Sometimes they’re sold in bulk, sometimes just in a bag or plastic container. I use four in this recipe and they’re a good, whole foods sweetener.

(and I forgot to put the baking soda in the picture with the other ingredients, but it is in there, so don’t forget!)

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I have pictured 4 medjool dates which I use as 1/4 c of my add-ins.  You can buy them at most grocery stores (Costco carries them too!) in the produce section. Sometimes they’re sold in bulk, sometimes just in a bag or plastic container. They are a good, whole foods sweetener. Just in case you decide to use dates in your recipe too (which is totally optional! Sometimes I just do chocolate chips and coconut flakes), let me show you how to prepare them for this granola bar recipe. First you’ll need to remove the pit. This is super simple. All you have to do is take a small sharp knife like a paring knife and cut a small slit along the side and pull it out. These pits are super hard, like a rock, so if you don’t do this, when you run your dates through you’re food processor you’ll know because it’ll be really noisy. I’m holding the pit in the picture below and the rest of the date is underneath.

IMG_7707Once you remove the pits, put the dates with a little bit of water into your food processor and pulse several times until it looks like a paste. You can open the lid and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and pulse again if you need. It should look about like this when it’s ready.

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In a large bowl stir together oats, cereal, flour and nuts. Set aside.

IMG_7713Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add honey, vanilla and baking soda. Once it’s bubbly, cook and stir another 5 minutes.

IMG_7714Mix the liquids with the oat mixture and then add the date paste and the unsweetened coconut flakes or whatever add-ins you’d like. You can buy unsweetened coconut at health food stores or Winco in the bulk section.

IMG_7715Stir together thoroughly and then press into the bottom of a greased 9×13 dish. Use a piece of parchment or wax paper and your hand to press it down firmly.

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Bake for ten minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely in pan and then cut into 16 squares. You can eat them right out of the pan, save them in a tupperware or individually wrap them in saran wrap to eat during the week. They’ll keep on the counter for several days or refrigerated for at least a week.

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THE RECIPE:

Honey and Oat Granola Bars

1/2 c butter
2/3 c honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3 c rolled oats
1 c puffed brown rice cereal
1/2 c whole white wheat flour
1 c chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 c add-ins(chocolate chips, date paste using 4 dates with 1 Tbsp of water and mixed in a food processor, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried fruit, sesame seeds etc)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan melt butter, honey, vanilla and baking soda over medium heat. Once butter is melted and bubbly cook and stir for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl stir together oats, cereal, flour and nuts. Mix the liquid with the oats. Stir in Add-ins. Press mixture into a greased 9×13 dish using a sheet of wax or parchment paper and your hand to apply pressure. Bake for ten minutes. Allow to sit in pan and cool completely and then cut into bars (I usually cut into 16).

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