(Somewhat Healthy) Granola Bars

Having a toddler in the house means that I seem to need a never ending supply of snackage, and that those snacks need to be not only be deemed toddler tasty but (somewhat) healthy as well. This isn't always the easiest task to achieve, as I am pretty sure there is something ingrained in my child's head that would lead her to believe she could live solely on crackers for the rest of her life. However, I have found these granola bars to actually be toddler approved, and it's pretty adorable to listen to her try to ask for "more ggrrrrnola?"

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This recipe is pretty simple. One of my favorites parts is that it is also very versatile. You can totally get creative with what ingredients you want to use. My only suggestion is to make the volumes of dry ingredients to wet ingredients relatively same to the recipe so that the granola bars stick together like they are supposed to. However, if that doesn't turn out, you just have granola instead, so no real loss there.

For my granola bars this time, I used old-fashioned rolled oats, wheat bran, flax seed, chopped peanuts, chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, honey, maple syrup, and sorghum syrup (mostly because I ran out of both honey and maple syrup while I was making them!), cinnamon, raisins, dried cranberries, and chopped prunes. My mom has made them adding chocolate chips and/or drizzling chocolate on the top. She has added whole almonds down the center. A friend made them without peanuts due to an allergy. You really can be pretty creative. There is brown sugar and butter in here as well, which you can decide if that makes them unhealthy for you. Proceed at your own risk!

The first step is toasting the oats and dry ingredients. I am sure you could get away without this step entirely if you really wanted to simplify the recipe, but a toasted oat has a better flavor in my opinion. Toast the oats for about 12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Watch them carefully, as they can burn quickly leaving a burnt taste to your granola bars.

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In step two, you melt the wet ingredients. You can see from these pictures that it will eventually turn into a sugary foam. This is when I add it to my dry ingredients to mix together.

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Next you obviously mix it together.

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After you have everything thoroughly mixed, quickly dump onto a pan lined with parchment paper (Don't use wax paper. The wax will melt leaving you with a disaster. Don't ask how I know this!) You can see from the pictures that when I first poured the mixture it took up almost 3/4 of the pan and afterward only about 1/2.  Fold the parchment paper over and really smash and condense the mixture as much as you can. I do this on the floor so I can put my body weight into it. Allow this to cool for a few hours.

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After waiting so patiently, find a sharp knife to chop your giant granola chunk into bars.

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Finally, eat them! Enjoy the real flavors that are able to shine through unlike a store-bought granola bar.

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Like I said before, please feel free to play around with these ingredients. Let me know what you come up with! Also, I always double this recipe (which is what is pictured).

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What do you find yourself feeding those tiny paws repeatedly day after day? Anything homemade with a recipe you'd like to share?

BeckySignature