Every once in a while, I need a sweet treat. I try to keep my baking on the healthier side, but I’m not opposed to butter and sugars when needed. A few weeks back, I felt like my family and I could all use a sweet hug. So a real sweet treat was in order. Since I was out of eggs, I figured granola bars would fit the bill with just the things we had around the house. Granola bars are a great snack, they pack well for lunches, and have enough whole grains and seeds that you can sort of trick yourself into thinking they are healthy. (They aren’t though, so don’t eat a ton of them!) My family loved these bars — perhaps because I finally made something sweet enough to be considered a treat? (Ask them about my hot chocolate, which I consider a dark chocolate lover’s dream and they swear isn’t sweet enough.)
This recipe is modified from one byInspired Taste. I substituted the sugar they use for unrefined sweeteners, replaced the nuts with seeds so my son could take them to school, used raisins instead of cranberries, and added some cinnamon. It’s a super easy recipe and one the kids would happily help pull together.
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook kind!)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds would also work well)
1/4 cup honey
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp date syrup (this is easy to find where we live, but if you can’t find it molasses is a good substitute as it is full of flavor and nutrients, or just increase the quantity of maple syrup)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup raisins
Cinnamon to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees F and toast the oats and seeds. Approximately 10 minutes, stir and check halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl when nicely golden.
While oats and seeds are toasting, put honey, maple syrup, date syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt into a small pot and heat medium-low on the stove until the butter is melted and all ingredients are well combined.
Pour the butter and sweetener mixture over the oats and seeds and stir until combined.
Line a pan of approximately 8 or 9 inches square or 10 x 6 inches with parchment paper. Leave the paper long and overflowing as you’ll use this paper to press the granola bars.
Pour the granola mixture into the pan and spread into the corners with a spatula.
Sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
Fold the remaining parchment paper over the pan and press the granola down firmly with your hands. Keep pressing longer than you think you need to. It helps them stay together.
Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Cut into twelve (or so) bars, or smaller “bites” Store either in the fridge or in an airtight container.