What: Relatively no-bake Granola Bars (unless you count quickly toasting the Oats and Nuts) that are the perfect healthier treat for your picky toddler. Customize them to your liking with easy ratios of Nuts and Dried Fruit. You could even add in ground Flax or Chia to up the nutrition content.
When: This recipe comes together in about 15 minutes. Allow about an hour for them to firm up in the freezer before you cut them into bars.
How: You’ll need an 8 inch pyrex or small baking pan with high sides, some aluminum foil and a food processor or high powered blender. Toast Oats and Nuts in the toaster oven or conventional oven before you start the mixing process.
Why: Because Granola Bars are a good opportunity to add nutrition to your toddler’s diet. They’re handheld, chewy, and a little sweet – three things young children can resist. Still, I wanted to make the best of this opportunity and create an easy to make recipe that is as junk free as possible. That means less added sugar, and no ickies like tons of corn syrup or other sticky, nutritionally-vacant binders. Super tender Dates (we love Date Lady brand, also available on Amazon) do the trick to knit these bars together, and an hour in the freezer helps them set up. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and slice. You can wrap them in Saran or in an airtight container in the fridge and use them for up to 4 days.
Easy Chewy Fruit & Nut Granola Bars
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Yield: Makes about 8 Bars or 16 toddler-sized Granola “sticks”
3/4 Cup very soft pitted Dates, finely chopped. If pitting yourself make sure you check them carefully after removing the pit.
2 Cups Organic Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup mixed, chopped Nuts of your choice (we used Pistachio & Walnut). For a nut-free option simply sub in the same amount of seeds such as Sunflower Seeds.
1/4 Cup chopped Dried Cranberries (or other dried fruit – i.e. Raisins, Apricots, etc)
1/4 Cup Salted Butter
1 teaspoon Honey
1/2 teaspoon good Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Light Brown Sugar
Preheat Oven or Toaster Oven to 350. Line an 8-inch pyrex plate or small baking pan with high sides with some aluminum foil. Mix Nuts with Oats on the foil. Toast Oats and Nuts for 5 Minutes. Take care not to burn. Remove them from the foil covered pan to a bowl and grease the foil with Oil, Cooking Spray or Butter.
Mix in Dates and Dried Cranberries.
In a small pan or the microwave, warm the Salted Butter Until Melted. Add Honey, Brown Sugar, and Vanilla Extract. Blend until all are dissolved.
Pour butter and sugar mixture over the oat/nut/fruit mixture, carefully incorporating. Remove mix to a Food Processor and process until Dates are incorporated as well as possible. You may need to scrape down the sides.
Press Mixture into foil-lined pan and remove to freezer for an hour. When ready to serve bring to room temperature, slice and enjoy!