Nutty Granola Bars {These are for you, Donny Osmond!}

nutty granola bars
I'm a little bit country And I'm a little bit rock 'n roll I'm a little bit of Memphis and Nashville With a little bit of Motown in my soul I don't know if it's good or bad but I know I love it so I'm a little bit country, I'm a little bit rock 'n roll...
My 70's crush on Donny Osmond made me want to be a little country to his "rock 'n roll." I knew every cheesy dance move to the song, and daydreamed about taking Marie's place, if say, she called in sick or fell off the stage. Never mind that I couldn't sing. {Why yes, I was a huge nerd. How did you know?!?}Regardless of whether or not you enjoyed the song, the lyrics definitely reinforced the belief that opposites attract.Anyway, as it goes in love, so it goes with a lot of foods...Salty or sweet? Nuts or fruit? Crunchy or chewy? Yes!The great thing about these Nutty Granola Bars is that they are a delicious marriage of opposites - and you can tweak them to lean either way.I lean toward salty+nuts+crunchy. So that's the way this recipe is written.Like to add some fruit? Raisins, chopped dates or dried cranberries would be good.Want a little more sweetness? Add chocolate or butterscotch chips, coconut, or whatever other morsels you like. Just keep the total amount of add-ins about the same. In the last few batches I've made, I also included healthy flax and chia seeds - a great way to sneak them in to your kids' snacks.You can substitute olive oil for the canola for an interesting hint of savory flavor, too.If you like your bars a little softer & chewier, just cook them for a shorter amount of time. {Either way, take the bars out before they reach the texture you want, because they firm up as they cool. My first two attempts at "crispy" resulted in bars that were a threat to dental work! If that happens to you, crumble them onto yogurt or ice cream - or into a bowl with milk for breakfast!}The consistency can be affected by humidity, so you may have to make a few batches to find your perfect formula. But if my various batches are any indication, you won't have a single leftover, no matter how they turn out!Another note - this recipe calls for Brown Rice Syrup as the liquid/binder. In pecking around the internet, several cooks that are far more knowledgable than me prefer it for granola bars. It's not AS sweet as honey or sugar, but not as heavy or bitter as molasses. I like it. And it's easy to find in most large grocery stores, and in health food stores. Here's the brand I have:brown rice syrupNow I just need to get another song in my head to get rid of that "earworm!"
Homemade Granola Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1½ cups chopped nuts {I use about ½ cup each almonds, pecans and pistachios}
  • 2 Tbs flax seed
  • 1 Tbs chia seed
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs canola oil {or olive oil for a more savory flavor}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325º. Line a baking pan {I used an 8x8 square} with parchment, leaving a little extra to hang over the sides. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Spread the oats and nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant.
  3. Mix the oats, nuts and seeds together in large bowl.
  4. Warm the rice syrup in the microwave for about 20 seconds - just until it's easy to pour. Mix in the honey, oil, vanilla and sea salt. Pour over oat mixture and gently stir with a spatula until all the ingredients are coated and sticking together.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Press down firmly and evenly to flatten.
  6. Back for 15-18 minutes for chewy bars, and 19-22 for crunchy bars. {Bars will firm up as they cool, so take them out before they get to the firmness you like. Ovens differ so you may have to experiment.}
  7. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove and cut into bars.
 

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