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by Lynda Balslev
Healthy, high-energy snack food is the perfect pick-me-up during the work or school day and provides a nutritional boost of energy, which improves concentration and stamina. While nailing the nutrition may be easier to accomplish when preparing a sit-down meal, it’s often difficult to achieve in a snack when you are grabbing food on the go. What can you eat that’s portable, delicious and healthy? Look no further than these homemade granola bars. Snacking never felt, or tasted, so good.
The beauty of homemade granola bars is that you can pick and choose your ingredients, omitting excess sugars, fat and additives without sacrificing flavor. While these bars are not entirely sin-free, they are packed with nutrient-rich oats, almonds and dried fruit. Each bar provides a welcome dose of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, which should justify making a batch for munching.
This recipe is inspired by a tried-and-true granola bar recipe from Ina Garten. I’ve kept her ratios of dried to wet ingredients nearly the same to ensure the bars will stick together, which can be a challenge with granola bars. This recipe leans into maple and cinnamon, which I love in granola. For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free oats.
Homemade Granola Bars
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time
Yield: Makes approximately 18 to 24 small bars
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup chopped raw almonds
3/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit, such as chopped apricots, cranberries and cherries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by- 11-inch baking pan and line with parchment.
Combine the oats, almonds and coconut in a bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the almond meal.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the sugar and syrup, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour over the oats, stirring to thoroughly combine. Stir in the dried fruit.
Dump the batter in the prepared pan and spread to evenly distribute, gently pressing down.
Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and cool completely in the pan until firm, at least 2 hours. Cut into squares or rectangles. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.