Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

Summer means my children, of which three are teenagers, are constantly in search of the next snack to ease their voracious appetites.

These nutrient dense, chewy granola bars are the perfect choice to stave off the next request for food for at least a few hours.

Easy to pack and store, they also make a great choice for summer activities and adventures.

*Note: This recipe is simple to customize.  Just switch out ingredients on a one to one ratio.  For example, cashews and cranberries make a great combination.  Or almonds and dried cherries.  Or macadamia nuts, flaked coconut and dried pineapple, etc.
In the picture above, I used peanuts, dried apple pieces and chia seed as a variation.

Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ, or for gluten free, 3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup crushed peanuts, or coarsely chopped almonds

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tblsp butter or coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt

Approximately 8 oz of dried fruit

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix oats, wheat germ or oat bran, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or almonds on a baking pan or cookie sheet with sides.  Toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring about halfway through to prevent burning.

Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by lining with parchment paper, allowing long edges to hang down over each end.

*Note: If doubling this recipe, use a large cookie sheet with sides in place of a 9×13 pan.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring brown sugar, honey, butter, extracts and salt to a low boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Remove grain mixture from oven.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together grain mixture, syrup mixture and dried fruit.

Spread combined mixture onto prepared pan or cookie sheet.  Fold long sides of parchment paper over top of pan so that sheets overlap.  Add an additional sheet of parchment paper, if necessary, so that all the mixture is covered.

Press down HARD to fully compact mixture together.  A rolling pin can be used to roll over the top of the bars to create a more evenly flat end result.  Bars need to be well compacted to hold their shape when cut.

Set pan aside and allow to completely cool for 2-3 hours.

Once cool, open parchment paper and turn grain block onto a large cutting board, peeling back the rest of the paper.

Firmly pressing down with a sharp knife, cut bars into desired size.

Wrap bars individually in left over parchment paper for a quick snack on the go, or layer bars between parchment paper in a large Tupperware or gallon bag and store for up to two weeks in the cupboard.

Makes approximately 2 dozen bars