Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The BEST Granola Bars

I'm a granola bar lover!  The ones I love the most are the Cliff Mojo bars.  They are my favorite for pre or post runs/workouts.  I love them so much that I'm always trying to figure out a way to re-create them!
I like using pretty simple/organic ingredients, so when I noticed that brown rice syrup was listed in the ingredients, I ran to our local natural foods store and found a nice big jar of it.
The wonderful thing about brown rice syrup is it has a really great consistency to hold a granola bar together, it's not overly sweet, and it's all natural.  So I combined a bunch of ingredients that I love and made these granola bars.  The last time I made them I used pretzel sticks, but unfortunately I didn't have any on hand this time.  They really add a nice salty crunch though!  The great thing about this recipe is you can play around with it any way you like...add different dried fruits, different nuts, leave out the nuts, and it's a NO-bake recipe!

GRANOLA BARS {my recipe}

INGREDIENTS: {makes 12+ bars depending on how large you cut them}

  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal {I use Trader Joes brand}
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats {if you feel adventurous, toast the oats in the oven first}
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried pumpkin seeds 
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut {optional}
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp. flaxseed 
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup {find it at most health food stores}
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, or any nut butter {I used NO sugar added peanut butter}
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pretzel sticks {optional}
In a large bowl, stir together the rice cereal, oats, cranberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut and flaxseed.  Set aside.  Line a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper, or grease with cooking spray.

Combine the brown sugar, brown rice syrup and peanut butter in a small saucepan.  Heat to medium-low just until sauce begins to thin out.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.  Pour over the cereal mixture and mix well.  **Now I don't like my chocolate chips to melt when the warm mixture gets poured on top, so I like to add the chocolate chips after this point and give another good stir.

Press firmly into the prepared pan.  I use the back of a buttered spoon and press down really hard so everything holds together.  Allow to cool completely then lift out of pan with the sides of the parchment paper and cut into squares or rectangles.  *If you are wanting them to cool quickly, you can place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

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