Kid-Approved Homemade Granola Bars

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It seems like anytime we leave the house, even for fifteen minutes, I have to bring an entire snack aisle with me.  Crackers, grapes, cereal, carrot sticks, pretzels, apples, and don’t forget the granola bars!  I’ve been lately feeling like so much of my food budget is going toward convenience foods, I was eager to try out a recipe for homemade granola bars.  Some mama friends and I each took a different granola bar recipe to sample and tried them out on the most distinguished of palates, our kids.   Here’s the one I tried, and it was met with rave reviews!

Soft Granola Bars
Yields 16-20 good-sized bars

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts–I used almonds and walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar — I lessened this to 1/4 cup
1/2 cup honey — I used 1/2 cup of Agave Nectar
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz dried fruit–I used cranberries and golden raisins
1/4 cup natural peanut butter — I used almond butter so Angie could eat them 🙂
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Line a 9×13 pan with waxed paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the oats, wheat germ, flax seeds and coconut together and spread them out on a baking sheet (and add your nuts if you are not using toasted nuts). Toast them for 10-12 minutes, stirring after every 2 minutes, until the oats are golden and smell toasted, but not burned.

In a large bowl, combine the chopped nuts, dried fruit, and toasted oats mixture.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, salt, and peanut butter. Stirring constantly, allow the butter and sugar to melt, and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup over the oat mixture in the bowl, and stir very well until the ingredients are well-combined. Scrape the hot granola into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with the miniature chocolate chips.

Take another piece of waxed paper, spray it with nonstick spray, and press it, sprayed side down, on top of the granola. You need to really compact the granola so that it will stick together. I placed another 9×13 pan on top of my granola.

Allow the bars to cool completely, at least 2-3 hours. To serve, pull up on the waxed paper to remove them from the pan. Peel the paper off, and cut them into bars or squares. Wrap them individually in cling wrap to prevent them from sticking together.

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