Mix-and-Match Granola Bars
Let kids design their own after-school snacks!
Clockwise from top left: Coconut Granola Bars with M&M's, Peanut-Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, Pepita-Cranberry Granola Bars with Yogurt Chips, Pistacio-Apricot Granola Bars
1. Prepare the Base
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang; coat with cooking spray and set aside. Toss 3 cups rolled oats with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter on a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer. Bake until toasted, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup of the following (choose one or a combination).
- Salted roasted nuts (any kind), chopped
- Salted roasted sunflower seeds
- Salted roasted pepitas
- Toasted shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened
2. Choose Your Mix-Ins
Measure out 1 cup of the following (choose one or a combination); set aside.
- Dried fruit, chopped if large
- Mini M&M’s
- Mini chocolate chips
- Carob chips
- Yogurt chips
- Yogurt-covered raisins
- Crisp rice cereal
- Pretzels, crushed
- Cookies (any kind), crushed
- Graham crackers, crushed
3. Make the Bars
Combine 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (or 2 tablespoons each coconut oil and vegetable oil) in a medium saucepan with ½ cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey or light agave syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (The mixture will bubble and foam.) Cook just 30 seconds, then pour over the oat mixture and stir. Let cool slightly, then stir in your mix-ins. Pour into the prepared pan and press firmly and evenly with a rubber spatula.
4. Let Cool
Let the bars stand at room temperature until completely cool and firm enough to slice, 1 to 3 hours. (Bars made with agave will take a little longer to firm up.) Lift out of the pan using the foil overhang; remove the foil and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.