Finding a healthy snack isn’t always easy. I have always loved granola bars, but struggle with the fact that many store-bought granola bars overly sweet and full of ingredients that I would rather not have in my food. So…I decided to make my own.
I spend a lot of time lingering over Barefoot Contessa’s recipe books, and stumbled upon a terrific recipe for granola bars ages ago. Since then I have revised it a few times to make my personal version full of hemp seeds, coconut and fruit: here it is! If you need it to be gluten-free simply ensure that you use wheat-free oats and coconut which are easy to find.
- 2 1/2 cups large flake oats
- 2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup dates, chopped
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. walnut oil or canola oil
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
- Place the coconut, walnuts and almonds on a cookie sheet and spread evenly. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring half way through, or until the coconut is lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool.
- Reduce the temperature to 325 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and cinnamon along with the toasted coconut and nuts mixture.
- In a small saucepan on the stove, combine the butter, oil, sugar, honey and salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.
- Stir the above liquid mixture into the dry oat mixture, ensuring that it is evenly combined and fully incorporated.
- Place this mixture on the prepared cookie sheet and pat down with your hands firmly to make it flat and compressed. You may need to slightly dampen your hands to prevent them from sticking.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the bars are golden brown (the bars get more crunchy the longer you cook them).
- Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the pan. When the bars are slightly cooled (but still warm), with slightly damp hands press down firmly on the bars again to help compress them: you can also use the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup. This will make it easier to cut and will help the bars stay together.
- Once completely cooled, about an hour, you may remove the bars from the pan with the parchment paper and cut into your desired shape with a sharp knife. These freeze well!