After giving birth to my second son, I've joined the gym and even working out with a trainer to get back into shape. These granola bars are a healthy snack to give you that extra boost of energy before or after a long workout. You could even have one for breakfast along with your cup of coffee. I've added a bunch of dried fruit so they have a lot of fiber but you can add anything you like - chocolate chips, peanut butter, sesame seeds, banana chips or any other type of dried fruit. The recipe makes about 12-16 bars depending on how you cut them. Wrap them in wax paper to take them on the go. You can store them in a zip lock or air tight container for about a week.
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.