These were easy to make and have tons of possibilities! Our first batch had dates, nuts, dried cherries, coconut, and raisins. The next batch will have coconut and mini chocolate chips but no nuts, so that hubby can eat them! You can put just about any fruit or candy in these…mini M&M’s, chopped dried apricots, bits of candy bar, flax seed, dried apples and cinnamon, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, peanut butter, gluten free rice puffs and puffed millet, yogurt covered raisins….the sky’s the limit! Plus, we made one pan of granola bars and baked a second pan with loose granola chunks, which made a great breakfast cereal. They tasted great! This is going to be a favorite recipe for us, because it’s so healthy and I can add a lot of different nutritious foods…but the kids love them and will eat them all day! Here is the basic recipe:
Chewy Granola Bars
1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (we used fructose)
2 tablespoons corn syrup or maple syrup (maple syrup does work, but corn syrup makes them more chewy…you might want to try doing 1 tbs. of each!)
4 cups oats (Bob’s Red Mill oats were great, make sure you get the package that says GF specifically though because they have both kinds!)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chocolate chips and/or your favorite dried fruit
Grease a 12-inch x 9-inch cookie sheet. In a pan, heat butter, sugars, and syrup until melted (add 1/2 cup peanut butter for peanut butter bars at this point, if you want). Mix the other ingredients together in a very large bowl. Pour hot butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. If using chocolate chips or candy, wait until mixture has cooled slightly before mixing them in…to avoid the chocolate melting and combining with the other ingredients. Spread on greased cookie sheet and press down, making sure the surface is smooth. Bake in a 325 degrees oven for 30 minutes (less time for chewier bars).
We added extra nuts and fruit (the remainder of a fruit and nut mix we had in the car on our trip to Idaho…the kids don’t like the nuts plain, but the y sure liked them in the bars!) and extra shredded coconut to ours. Also, we added about 1/2 cup of dried dates…they added to the chewy texture and were really good. You could decrease the sugar a little because the bars turned out pretty sweet with the dates and coconut. Don’t let the sugars and butter boil, just melt them together or they will get too hard! Still tasty, but not as good as they could be. Enjoy!