Say good-bye to store-bought granola bars, it's easy to make your own with healthy ingredients using whole grains and your choice of dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Send them to school in lunch boxes and back packs, mail a tin full to your college student. They're great as an after-school and pre or post-sport snack.
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten free, optional)
1/2 cup slivered raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds,
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup local honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup dates, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Canola cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Line bottom and sides of an 11-inch-by-7-inch pan with aluminum foil, lightly spray bottom and sides with cooking spray, set aside.
Evenly spread oats, almonds, seeds and coconut onto a baking sheet, bake for 5 minutes, stir, evenly spread again and bake for an additional 5 minutes until lightly toasted, transfer to a large bowl.
Combine oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Pour mixture into bowl with toasted ingredients, mix well using a spatula.
When mixture has slightly cooled 5 minutes, add dried fruit and chocolate chips, stir to combine.
Transfer oat mixture to prepared pan and using a potato masher or spatula, firmly press the mixture evenly into the pan for about 1 minute.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown at edges, then cool on a wire rack completely. Remove entire block of granola, peel away foil and cut into bars.
Store in an airtight container between wax paper at room temperature for up to 1 week or wrap individually and freeze.