Let’s face it: granola bars are basically candy for those of us who like shopping in the bulk bins at the health food store. I like feeling wholesome about the treats that I eat, and these are indeed that. Composed mostly of whole grains, nuts, dried fruit, plus some chocolate and coconut to keep it lively, they’re wonderful afternoon snacks when energy flags and a little boost is needed. And they’re great for travel, a school lunch, or a day hike.
They don’t need to be refrigerated, but they’ll hold their shape better if they are. And you don’t have to be faithful to this combination of ingredients, either — throw in any dried fruit or nut that catches your fancy.
Happy end of summer, gang!
Cherry Chocolate Granola Bars
Makes 8-12 bars
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup puffed rice
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325? Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, puffed rice, cherries, chocolate chips, almonds, pepitas, coconut, cinnamon and ginger. In a separate bowl, combine the honey, olive oil, almond butter and vanilla extract. The mixture will be incredibly thick, so have patience with it.
Using a large wooden spoon or your fingers, fold the wet ingredients into the dry. It will resist; be patient and continue working the mix together until combined.
Line a large rectangular baking dish with parchment paper or generously grease the surface. Add the granola bar mixture. Press it down firmly into the pan with your fingers or the back of a spatula.
Bake at 325? for 25 to 30 minutes. The granola bars will be soft when removed from the oven. Allow to cool to room temperature, then slice them into 8 to 12 bars with a very sharp knife. Chill the bars in the fridge for at least one hour more to solidify. They’re best kept in the fridge — these bars are on the soft side.
All photos by Kimberley Hasselbrink.