Homemade granola bars are so much better than their commercial cousins. You can make them with the kinds of fruit and nuts you like best while skipping the less than healthy stuff, like corn syrup, artificial flavors, and preservatives. They stir together in minutes with minimal fuss and are even better a day or two after baking as the flavors have a chance to meld.
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup loosely packed coconut flakes
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons butter or canola oil
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch baking pan with foil that overhangs the pan on all sides by at least one inch. Lightly grease the foil.
Spread the oats, nuts, and coconut on a baking sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes, or until they are lightly toasted, stirring once or twice to insure even cooking. Remove the pan from the oven and let the oat/nut mixture cool completely.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300F degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the wheat germ and oat/nut with a wooden spoon until blended.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir while continuing to cook for one more minute and then pour the mixture over the oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir well to combine.
Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan with wet fingers. Bake the bars until they are light golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack until the granola bars have cooled completely.
Lift the slab of granola bars from the pan using the overhanging foil as handles and place on a cutting board. Cut into desired size squares/bars.
These granola bars will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Yield: One 9-inch pan
Martha McKinnon is an avid home cook and cooking instructor who loves sharing everything she has learned through her years in the kitchen with all who are interested.