Store-bought granola bars are handy snacks and meal replacements, but they can sometimes be loaded with sugars and fillers. They can also be expensive. These Chewy Granola Bars are wholesome and not too sweet, getting most of their sweetness from the dried apricots that are used to bind the ingredients. The rice cereal provides a crisp texture to contrast with the chewiness of the fruit and nuts. Small pieces of apricot may be added to give additional pops of flavor and chew. Try swapping out the nuts, seeds and fruit to make bars that suit a variety of tastes.
In addition, we like to break the bars apart and toast them in the oven. This makes a delicious granola cereal that can be eaten on its own or use in a several ways as a topping.
Chewy Granola Bars
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
- 1/2 cup Riceland Rice Bran Oil
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 2 cups rice cereal
- 1/3 cup finely chopped apricots, optional
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 -inch baking dish with foil (see note). Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
- In a large baking dish, spread oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Stir half way through baking and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
- In a food processor, process apricots until coarsely chopped. Add in brown sugar, honey and salt. Process until finely ground.
- While processor is running, add oil and water. Continue to process until a smooth paste is formed.
- Transfer paste to a large bowl. Add warm seed and oat mixture. Stir with a spatula until the mixture is well coated.
- Gently stir in rice cereal until thoroughly mixed with oats. Stir in finely chopped apricots, if desired.
- Spread mixture into prepared 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Using a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper, press oat mixture firmly until the granola is level and packed.
- Bake granola for approximately 20-25 minutes until just beginning to brown at edges.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Lift from pan using foil handles. Place granola on wire rack to continue to cool at least 1 additional hour.
- Remove foil. Transfer granola to a cutting board and cut into desired size bars and wrap with plastic wrap, if desired
- Store bars at room temperature up to 3 weeks.
Optional: After baking, granola bars may be broken up and returned to a 350-degree oven 10-15 minutes to toast. Stir gently half way through toasting. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Use as granola cereal or to top Greek yogurt or ice cream.
Notes: To easily line the baking pan with foil, turn pan upside down and fit two sheets of foil to cover. Turn pan over and insert foil form inside. Use overhang of foil as handles to remove granola from pan after baking.
Be sure to use dried fruit that is moist and soft, or the bars will not hold together well.
Post by Debbie Arnold of DiningwithDebbie.net.