By Dianne Bunis

These delicious bars are loaded with nutritious ingredients, perfect to pack for a bike ride or a hike through the woods.

Tip: Watch the salt -- if using salted butter, do not add more salt to the recipe. When baking with unsalted butter and no-salt almond butter, add salt.

Oatmeal almond butter cookie bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup creamy almond butter (Trader Joe's is good and reasonably priced)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 organic eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup all-purpose flour*

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon whole ground flaxseed meal

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats*

2 tablespoons coconut flakes

1/2 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries

1/4 cup 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds

(* 1 cup Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix* and gluten free old-fashioned rolled oats may be substituted)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 extra inches overhanging on two sides. (Tip: I like to use office clips to hold the sides while placing dough in, just remember to remove them before baking!)

3. In a food processor fitted with the dough paddle, place softened butter, almond butter, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla and maple syrup into it, cover and blend until light and fluffy. Using a spatula, scrape dough from sides, then add the flour (or baking mix), baking soda, flaxseed meal and chia seeds, pulse until combined, scrape sides again to incorporate. Add coconut, raisins and chocolate, pulse until combined. Finally, add pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pulse to combine.


4. Remove the dough paddle, clean the sides of the container with spatula and mix in any unblended dough.

5. Press dough firmly into prepared pan using finger tips, distributing evenly. Using the flat side of a spatula or vegetable masher, press top to flatten.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly golden, remove from oven and let cool completely. Lift slab from pan by lifting up on paper, set down, gently peel away paper; slice into bars.

Bars keep best in a sealed container.