cherry almond granola bars


There are so many granola bars out there these days. Crunchy, chewy, oat-y. Nuts, no nuts, sweet, salty, dipped in chocolate, candy bar-esque, cereal bars with jam. I could probably go on.

I'm a fan of all of these. What's not to like? And even though quite a few companies have been making some changes and leaving out confusing and unnecessary ingredients, I still like to avoid processed stuff whenever I can. And for something like granola bars, or even just granola, that's a pretty easy thing to do at home without a lot of effort.

And what's great about these, is the ingredients can change depending on what you've got on hand. Think about the flavors in your favorite store-bought bars and go from there.

For this particular flavor combo, you'll need:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats (I used Trader Joe's Organic Multigrain Oats)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2/3 cup dried cherries (unsweetened, if you can find them)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 salt
1 cup unsalted almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the bars themselves require no baking, both your oats and added nuts need to be toasted. On a large baking sheet, spread your oats of choice into a single layer and toast for about fifteen minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

On a separate sheet, toast your almonds and pecans for about 5-10 minutes or until fragrant. When you take both the oats and the nuts out of the own, be sure to remove from the pans or they'll continue cooking and could end up tasting burnt. Nobody's looking for that add-in.

Once toasted, add your oats and nuts to a large bowl. Toss together with your cherries, cinnamon and salt. In a smaller bowl or a liquid measuring cup, add your almond butter, honey and vanilla extract. Whisk together until evenly combined (I put this mixture in the microwave for about thirty seconds to help loosen it up/make it easier to stir).

Pour your nut butter/honey mixture over your dry ingredients and fold together until all the dry ingredients are coated. Finally, press the mixture down into a parchment lined pan (9"x9" will work) and refrigerate for several hours or up to overnight.

These are obviously nutty and sweet enough without being overpowering. Next time, chocolate chips and peanut butter.

Craving granola for days? I've got others: