Simple Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

I’m quite fond of granola, but packaged granola bars always frighten me with their lists of unpronouncable ingredients and shelf life of a thousand years–not to mention sugar and sodium content. On the other hand, having something that is quick, easy to eat, shelf-stable, and delicious is an undeniable draw. Solution? Make your own, of course. Shockingly, none of my cookbooks had granola bar recipes, although they had recipes for granola. (Joy, what were you thinking? More with Less, how could you?) Next stop: the internet. Here recipes abounded, but tragically most of them did not look like what I would call a “healthy” snack, and all included varying amounts of sugar. Now I like my brown sugar as much as the next girl, but with honey, almonds, and cranberries packed together in happy harmony, who needs it? So I ended up cobbling together my own version. On the one hand, I was a little disappointed the result didn’t hold together better: while it formed bars, they couldn’t withstand much jostling before disintegrating into misshapen lumps. On the other hand, they tasted great and on taking them into work for a party they were singled out for several compliments and a recipe request. So judge for yourself:

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/3 c. whole almonds
1/4 c. soy flour
1 t. cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
1/3 c. canola oil
1/3 c. wildflower honey
1 T. molasses
1 t. vanilla extract
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. cranberries

Stir the oats, almonds, and flour together in a shallow pan and toast in the oven until golden, stirring every 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn. When golden-brown, remove from the oven and add the cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a small saucepan, heat the honey, oil, molasses and vanilla until runny (as opposed to the usual viscous texture of honey and molasses in particular). Stir in the peanut butter and then pour the mixture onto the toasted oats. Add the cranberries and stir thoroughly. Put in a greased 8×8 inch pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into bars, and put back in the oven for a couple more minutes. Cool and enjoy!
Recipe comments: Feel free to add any fruits or nuts you would like. Also note that the peanut butter flavor was not at all dominant– I don’t think I would have known it was there if I hadn’t put it in myself. You can also replace the soy flour with with whole wheat or all-purpose. I used soy for the added protein, but if you don’t have it don’t worry. I look forward to experimenting with the recipe more in the future. You should too!

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