homemade granola bars

i love granola bars, but i don't like how much they cost. so i decided to try my hand at making my own today. i googled several recipes, but i ended up just making up my own recipe based on what i had sitting around my kitchen.

a few notes, before i share the recipe: the most important thing is the ratio of dry to wet ingredients, so if you don't like flax seed or peanuts, or if you only have honey and maple syrup, simply substitute more/less of another ingredient. you can use any fruit and any nut, even chocolate chips or m&m's if you want to. i used prunes, dates, and apricots, which i diced before i began. i also used cranberries, blueberries, and raisins, which i left whole. i used sunflower seeds, peanuts, and soy nuts, but i threw them all in my food processor to keep it all fine. i'm not a big fan of huge chunks of anything in my baked goods. also, instead of wheat germ or oat flour, as some recipes called for, i just put some whole oats in my food processor for a minute or so until it became flour, and then i added some xantham gum for a little extra "stick." i'm not sure if the xantham gum was necessary, so i suppose you could try it w/o and see how it works! also, i used coconut oil instead of only butter, because coconut oil's melting point is 77*F, which means that it will stay solid longer.

also, these directions are for a double batch. each pan, depending how you cut, will make 12-18 bars.

2 large mixing bowls
1 cookie sheet
1 medium saucepan
2 pans, 9"x13" (or 8"x8" for thicker granola squares)
wax paper
cooking spray

dry ingredients:
4 cups oats
2 cups processed oats (to oat flour)
1/2 cup milled flax seed
1/2 cup seeds
1 cup soy nuts
2 cups peanuts (or other assorted nuts)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp xantham gum
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp assorted spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, etc.)

syrup ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil

other ingredients:
3 cups cup assorted dried fruit
1 tbs raw sugar

preheat oven to 400*F. mix together all dry ingredients, making sure the brown sugar is well-mixed. Separate into two batches, about 5-6 cups each. (at this point, if making different flavors, add the substitute nuts/spices). toast first batch of oat mix in the oven on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. while oats toast, heat all syrup ingredients in saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring frequently to mix (esp. the molasses) and to keep from burning. when toasting completes, put 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit in large bowl, pour toasted oat mix over, mix well. (at this point, begin toasting 2nd batch of oats). add half of the syrup mix to the bowl, keeping the rest over low heat. stir oat mix and fruit and syrup very well, making sure all is coated. i had to stir for about two minutes. in the first 9"x13" pan, place wax paper in the bottom (leave it long enough to fold all the way over the top), spray lightly with cooking spray, and if desired, sprinkle raw sugar lightly. pour the mix into the pan, spreading evenly with spoon. fold wax paper over top, press very firmly into the bottom of the pan. (i found it helpful to cover the wax paper with a towel). allow to cool for 3 hours before removing from pan and slicing to desired size.

my first combination: cinnamon, nutmeg, dates, prunes, raisins, blueberries.
my second: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, almond slivers, apricots, dates, cranberries, blueberries.