For a long time I’ve had a love-hate relationship with granola bars. My idea of the perfect granola bar is something chewy, delicious, not too sweet, and that serves as a satisfying snack. I always want to like the store-bought ones, but time and again they disappoint me.
Every few months I’ll be in a grocery store and will wander past a large display of some new variety of granola bars and will then somehow convince myself that these are the bars I have been looking for all my life. Ten minutes later, I’m in the checkout line with a basket filled with granola bars, only to get home and discover that these are no different than any other bar I’ve ever had. They’re either bland or too sweet and I still feel hungry after eating 5 of them.
So now, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I found this recipe from the lovely Ina Garten (I love her SO MUCH) and after making a few of my own adjustments I am pleased to announce that these are, in fact, the granola bars that I’ve always dreamed of. They’re chewy, with just a hint of sweetness, and are a satisfying snack that neither I, nor you, have to feel guilty about.
Adapted from Ina Garten
I changed the original recipe quite a bit. I was worried about it being too sweet and took out the brown sugar altogether, and am definitely glad that I did. I was also worried after reading some reviews that the butter would make the bars greasy, so I cut the amount down from 3 tablespoons to 1. I couldn’t find wheat germ in the store so I substituted flaxseed meal, but either option would work. My favorite dried fruits are apricots and cranberries, but you can use anything that you like or have on hand.
Also – not a fan of bars? Just break this up into pieces and you can eat it as your morning breakfast cereal.
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups chopped dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 12-inch baking sheet and line it with greased parchment paper, or a Silpat.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and add in flaxseed meal. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Combine the butter, honey, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir the mixture together.
Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 2-3 hours and then cut into squares.