Granola bars are one of the few recipes I”m picky about when it comes to food. Can’t be too soft, but can’t be too hard, can’t be too sweet, but can’t be too bland. Because of this dilemma, I have attempted to make them several times and they have never come out perfect, until now. The reason I am so eager to make granola bars of my own, is because have you SEEN the ingredient list on store bought ones? Who knows what you’re eating, and considering I can snack on granola bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I thought it was time to make my own healthy, chemical free snack!
Now, depending on what you like, these may not be perfect for you, but with the perfect blend of fruit and nuts, I will say this is my best granola bar recipe yet, and for another one – you can check out the other recipe on the blog titled Homemade Granola Bars posted in January.
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2.5 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup chopped dried blueberries, pineapple, and dates (depending on the size, make sure it’s chopped)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper, if you don’t have parchment paper, just be sure to REALLY butter that dish!
2. Toss the oats and almonds together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Do NOT burn these, otherwise you will regret it!
3. While the oats are browning, place the peanut butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. If the granola is still browning, then just let the mixture sit under low heat.
4. When the granola is done, transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
5. Add all of the dried fruit and the peanut butter mixture to the large mixing bowl with the granola and mix well.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. You want to wet your hands because otherwise the mixture will get stuck to your fingers! Tip: Press firmly into the pan, to keep the granola from breaking when it’s finished. Don’t be worried about it sticking, if you buttered the pan well enough or are using parchment paper, you won’t have to worry about that – your main concern would be keeping everything nice and tight!
7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. If you want them a little harder, you can cook longer, but I was going for a little softer of a consistency this time!
8. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 4-5 hours. Tip: I find, the longer you cool them, the better they stay together and don’t fall apart. If you want them extra crispy, you could let them cool in the fridge also!