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"Out of the Box" Granola Bars

I often make a double batch of these using a 9X13-inch pan. I cut the bars and wrap at least half the batch in parchment paper and then store them in a resealable bag in the freezer. The kids grab them on their way to school and they defrost by lunch time. You can vary the recipe by using unsweetened shredded coconut in place of the flax meal or experimenting with different types of dried fruit. Any type of nut, seed, or soy nut butter will work in place of peanut butter.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 2/3 cup crispy brown rice cereal (or Rice Krispies)
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup organic brown rice syrup (see notes )
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened peanut butter or other nut or seed butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parch­ment paper so that it drapes a couple of inches over two sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, flax meal, chocolate chips, and dried cherries.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the brown rice syrup, maple syrup, canola oil, water, and peanut butter until smooth.
  4. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the oats mixture and stir until combined. The batter will be thick, sticky, and a little stubborn.
  5. Dump the mixture into the prepared baking pan. With your hands, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. (If the mixture sticks to your hands, cover it with a piece of parch­ment paper as you work.)
  6. Bake until the granola is golden brown on the top and darker brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Cut into 18 bars.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the pantry or 2 weeks in the freezer.

Recipe Notes

Organic brown rice syrup is available in organic markets, specialty markets, and the "health food" section of many supermarkets. Honey works as a substitute, but makes for a slightly more crumbly bar.