So I’m kind of a weirdo when it comes to food. I don’t like to buy things in a box, hate processed foods and will make it from scratch if at ALL possible. My husband thinks the amount of time I spend in the kitchen or in bed at night, poring over recipes is insane.
But I LOVE to cook.
And I love to make recipes that replicate things that everyone else is eating. Especially granola bars. Because I LOVE granola, and I love dried fruit… but most of the time the store-bought bars are so overly processed that I don’t think they taste right at all! Not to mention the high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil (yuck).
But the ability to try out new combinations, new nuts, or fruits? Totally appealing. And totally delicious!They can even be made gluten free if you use GF Oats! So FABULOUS!
The best part is, the kiddo loves them because they are sweet… while I love them because it’s oatmeal and flax seed and dried fruits and everything that is AWESOME for you!
Try them – I promise it’s worth making your own. You may never eat them out of a box again!
This makes about 15-20 bars… depending on how big you cut them. I cut them pretty small because I have a toddler… and because I can’t stop eating them.
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oatmeal
1 Cup Almonds – They can be sliced or halved or whole. If they are halves or whole, just chop them up into small pieces.
1/2 cup Flax Seed Meal – You can buy it at the grocery store and it lasts a LONG time. If you can’t find it, try wheat germ… just make sure to toast it slightly first.
3 TB Butter
2/3 Cup of Honey
1/4 Cup of Brown Sugar – lightly packed
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Cinnamon
A pinch of Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Chopped Dried Cranberries
1/2 Cup Chopped Dried Plums
1/2 Cup Raisins
The type of dried fruit is totally up to you. I used everything that I had on hand in my pantry… so go wild with whatever combination you’d like! You could try dates, or apricots… Go crazy.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×12 baking dish and line it with parchment paper. Spray a little bit of cooking spray on the parchment paper to make sure you get the bars off after cooking. I didn’t do that and had a HARD time getting them out.
Toss the oatmeal and the almond slivers/halves/crushed pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, shimmying the pan occasionally, until the oats are lightly browned. Don’t overcook them or you’ll have to start all over. There’s nothing quite like the taste/smell of burned almonds. *shudder*
Once the oats and almonds are brown, toss them into a large bowl with the flax seed meal.
Reduce the oven to 300 degrees.
In a saucepan, over low-medium heat, melt the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Once it comes to a boil, turn it off and stir it for a minute to get all of the delicious flavors married together, then dump it over the oats.
Add your dried fruit and stir it together. Make sure that everything is coated in the honey… don’t want to leave anyone out!
Pour the oatmeal mixture into your pan and press it down lightly, making sure the mixture spreads out to the corners. It’s going to be super sticky, so I find it helps if you wet your hands first.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until beautifully golden brown.
The sad part is? You can’t eat them right away. They are going to be super soft and need to set up for a few hours. If you can last that long, pull them out by the wax paper and flip them over onto a board. With a sharp knife, slice them up into squares and store in an airtight container.