There is a much-told folk tale about a group of travelers who unwittingly trick a group of townspeople into making a communal meal. The Stone Soup Story is very old but it shows how collaborative efforts yield grander (and tastier) results than the individual parts.
Today I tricked myself and various ingredients in my pantry into coming together to create a recipe that does not normally result in culinary Ooooooohs and Ahhhhhhhhs. The lowly granola bar.
Surprise, surprise, not only were they easy to make but they were much better than store-bought varieties.
Home-Made Granola Bars
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- 2½ cups rolled or quick oats
- ¼ cup flax seed
- ¼ cup sesame seed
- 1 cup chopped nuts (almond, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or a mix of any of them)
- ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup honey
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup dried fruits (dates, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, apricots, or a mix of any of them)
Preheat oven to 325. Spread oats in a 9×13 baking dish and toast for 20-30 minutes until golden. Stir oats every 5 minutes to avoid scorching.
In a large microwave safe container, combine vanilla, honey, coconut oil, and brown sugar. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until mix bubbles. Mix halfway to blend in sugar.
Combine salt, shredded coconut, cinnamon, nuts, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Mix well.
Add oats and mix.
Pour in honey and sugar mixture, stirring well with a large wooden spoon.
Line the 9×13 pan with parchment paper or wax paper. Spread the granola mix across the baking pan, pressing flat to ensure a dense bar with a smooth surface. Use another piece of parchment paper to cover the top and push firmly down with the palm of your hands to distribute the mix evenly.
Place the granola mix in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Use a pizza cutter to cut into small bars. Wrap individual bars in parchment or wax paper.
Yield 12 large bars.
These bars were much tastier than I imaged they would be and I effectively cleaned out my flax seed, honey, shredded coconut, and miscellaneous dried fruit and nut supplies. More room for peanut butter now!