These granola bars are not only delicious and filling, but they also provide your body with fiber and protein. They are the perfect item to pack in lunches for school, work, hiking, or camping. They also make a great snack or meal—you can eat one for breakfast with a little yogurt and fruit.
The best thing about granola bars is that they are highly customizable. If you don’t have all of these ingredients, just substitute with whatever you have on hand. Keep the wet ingredients and oats the same (you can leave out the maple syrup if desired), and mix up the other dry ingredients all you want. You’ll need roughly 3 cups of dry ingredients.
Some dry ingredients that are great to substitute in are flax seed, peanuts, cashews, any dried fruit, coconut flakes (toasted or plain), chocolate chips, nutmeg, etc.
Make sure to use parchment paper in the baking dish because it makes pulling out the granola bars very easy. They also stay together much better if you let them cool as a block before cutting them.
Hearty & Wholesome Granola Bars
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/8–1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
- 3–4 drops orange essential oil
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2–3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2–3/4 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup pepita seeds (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or 1 toothpick cinnamon essential oil added to the wet ingredients)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish (approx. 8.5″ x 12.5″), and line with a piece of parchment paper so the bars are easier to lift out.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, maple syrup, and orange essential oil.
- Place the rolled oats into a food processor (or blender on the lowest speed), and pulse until the oats are coarsely chopped (but still with lots of texture). Stir oats into the banana mixture.
- Place the dried cranberries, walnuts, and almonds into the food processor or blender, and pulse until the nuts and fruit are coarsely chopped.
- Combine the nuts, fruit, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, and stir together; then stir everything into the banana-oat mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Spoon mixture into a prepared baking dish. Press down until compacted, and smooth out with hands until even. Use a pastry roller to smooth out if desired.
- Bake for 25–30 minutes until firm and lightly golden along the edge. Place dish on cooling rack for 10 minutes; then lift the bars out by lifting the parchment paper. Place granola slab on a cooling rack, and allow to cool.
- Slice into bars, and enjoy!
NOTE: These bars will keep longer if stored in an air–tight container or bag in the fridge or freezer.
Source: This recipe is adapted from http://ohsheglows.com/2014/05/20/feel-good-hearty-granola-bars/