I'm always on the quest for things I can make the kids for snack for their lunch boxes. You must understand that this comes with tremendous pressure to put in there what's "normal" food, like their friends eat. I get repeated requests for string cheese (nope, too much packaging and growth hormones in the milk), rice crispie treats (I don't really even think I need to explain this one, but processed cereal and high fructose marshmallows), crackers and cheese packets (that don't contain real cheese, too much packaging, let's just not even go there), etc, etc, the list goes on and on. So, I decided after Little Red's 24th request this month for something "normal" in his lunchbox for snack (is there something wrong with baby carrots now?), I decided to set about trying to perfect a good and mostly healthy granola bar for them. I had to come up with one that is peanut and tree nut free because, though they aren't allergic, they have nut allergies in their school. I think I did pretty well with this one...
Great Grains Granola Bars
Makes 24 bars
2 cups whole oats
3/4 cups wheat germ or ground flax seeds (or a bit of each, which is what I did)
3/4 c sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts (or chopped pumpkin seeds if you can't use nuts, I increased the sunflower seeds to 1 cup and chopped 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds as a replacement)
2/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c honey, maple syrup or agave
4 T butter or coconut oil
2 t vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp kosher salt (like table salt, not coarse grind)
8 ounces of dried fruit (I used cranberries, raisins and dried apples combined)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Line a 13X9 inch pan with waxed or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
3. If using, crush peanuts in ziploc bag with rolling pin or other heavy item.
4. Mix the oats, wheat germ and/or flax, sunflower seeds, and peanuts if using on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.
5. Toast them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.
6. In a medium saucepan mix the brown sugar, honey, butter or coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
7. Cook over medium heat until butter and honey melt and the whole mixture is bubbly. This will be the "glue".
8. After removing your oats from the oven put them in a large bowl, then add your "glue" and the dried fruit.
9. Mix all the ingredients well. You want everything to be well coated with the "glue".
10. Dump all into the prepared 13x9 pan and using another sheet of waxed or parchment paper, press the mixture into the pan (I like to use a pot holder on top of the waxed paper as the mixture is quite hot yet). You want to really press it into the pan or when you cut them into bars they will fall apart.
11. Cool completely in the pan, the remove, peel off the waxed paper and cut into bars.
Enjoy some oat-y goodness, ~Peacemom