At Ryan Bowen’s summer lecture we all got to thinking about the extra additives that are in the food we eat. Truth be told, the only way you can be certain about what you are putting in your body is to eat whole foods and do scratch cooking. I’ve been making granola bars for our family for several years. Cooking for kids there is a limit to the “extreme healthfulness” you can get away with – we all like to eat things that taste good and with my kids I’ll take the honey in the recipe along with the whole grains, seeds and healthy fats in these bars over whatever else they would reach for.

I know what you are thinking – when will I DO this? And here is the only reason I am able to: The biggest time suck in cooking is when you are making new things and don’t have a system or memory and must rely on actually reading a recipe. The things that I make every week I know by heart and can do it with minimal time commitment.

I always keep a box of granola bars in our fridge. Gigi lives by them. From time to time Jeremy takes them for lunch and slathers almond butter on top, or adds them to container of yogurt. They taste good, but also have good fats, protein and fruit. I originally adapted from Alton Brown, but my version has come quite a way from this.

Hyatt Family Granola Bars

Toast on a ½ sheet pan. 350 degrees. 20 minutes. Stir at least once – the coconut toasts faster than the other ingredients so watch out for that.
3 C rolled oats
2 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1 C pumpkin or pepita seeds
1 C sunflower seeds (unsalted)

Chop/Dice: ½ cup dried apricots (I like the slab apricots from Trader Joe’s) and ½ C dried tart cherries (also TJ).

Prep pan: 9×13 metal pan lined with parchment paper.

Liquid mixture. Heat over medium heat (in pan large enough to mix all the toasted ingredients in to) stiring frequently until bubbly, then remove from heat. I give amounts below but honestly, I eyeball all of these so it is okay and you may find your own variation. On my stove, I usually turn on the liquid pot when there are about 7 minutes left in the dry ingredient toasting process.
1 C honey
2 t vanilla
6-7 T butter (I have used earth balance in the past too)
1 t salt

Add toasted mixture to the pot. Add diced dried fruit to the pan. Add one small handful of chocolate chips (more is not better). Stir until combined.

Turn out in to the prepped pan. Spread out and lightly press until flat. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Let pan cool.

These next steps are important for the bars to cut properly. (If they are too warm or too cold they will fall apart and just be granola, not a bar)Place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. When you remove from the fridge, using the parchment paper pull bars from pan. Keeping them in the paper, let sit on counter for an hour or so. Cut in to squares. Place squares in airtight container and store in the fridge. Use any scraps or broken pieces as regular granola. Honestly, sometimes they stick together better than others. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t. I’ll take the randomness of it in place of the funky stabilizing/stick together additives.