Homemade granola bars.

To date, I’ve posted four recipes for homemade granola made with agave, oats and other natural ingredients. Maybe I have some kind of granola fetish, I don’t know. I love it with milk for breakfast, out of hand as a snack and stirred into my own fruited yogurt cups for lunch.

Recently, I tinkered with a recipe for homemade granola bars, and landed on one that I really like. It’s made with agave and honey; puffed rice and Grape Nuts cereals add a bit of crunch. While I love whole almonds in my granola, you could use pecans or walnuts, and shift the type of dried fruit you add.

Cut these homemade granola bars into squares and pack them for a mid-morning at-work snack, an after-workout nibble or a healthy after-school treat.

homemade crunchy-chewy granola bars

3 Tbsp. natural almond or peanut butter
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
1/2 c. Grape Nuts cereal
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries and/or blueberries), optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang on two sides.

In a small saucepan, combine nut butter, honey, agave nectar, brown sugar and vanilla. Heat over medium-low, whisking frequently, until the brown sugar dissolves and the nut butter is incorporated smoothly into the mixture.

In a large bowl, combine puffed rice, oats, Grape Nuts, chopped almonds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Pour the warm honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and use the spatula to press the mixture firmly.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the granola bars are golden brown all over. Remove the pan from the oven and again use the rubber spatula to press down on the mixture. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, then use the overhanging parchment paper to lift them out of the pan. On a cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut 16 pieces.

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