Oatmeal Nut Granola Bars.

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I’m coming up on my one year anniversary or epiphany that changed the way I was eating.  It was last November.  I had put on a ten extra pounds and basically was disgusted with how I felt.  I worked out 6 days a week – running, weights, spinning, cardio – you name it!  Then one day it all changed.  It all came into focus and I realized that it wasn’t my effort that needed to change it was my diet.  In particular, how much I was eating.  You know, snacking here or there.  Walk by and grab this or that.  I started to keep track and I have to admit, I was flabbergasted.  I just changed.  I was tired of it.  I had lost 20 lbs two summers prior and I knew I just wanted a change.  I was also sick of hearing how when you turn 40 it’s all over.  If you know me well… I don’t take well to accepting things that I can change.  I don’t roll over and play dead easily.  I’m a fighter by nature and this was not going to knock me down.

So one year, here I sit.  I’m now a vegetarian for the past 7 months.  I’m down 30 lbs total.  I run about 1.5 minutes faster than I did before.  I feel awesome.  I’ve discovered through my evolution the friends who support me and those who sadly don’t.  I’ve inspired people so that they can do the same and receive hundreds of emails that inspire me to continue from fans of my page.  It’s a cycle… pay it forward.  Pay your energy forward.  Pay you knowledge forward.  Build up and don’t tear down!  That’s the whole gist of my blogging.  Inspire others to do good, eat good and pay it forward.

Okay now off my soapbox (for now).  So here sits this granola bar.  Doesn’t look more special than any other granola bar out there I’m sure.  But when I created this granola bar I strived to make it as healthy and clean as possible.  Packed with tons of vitamins and minerals.  Great for recovery after a walk, a run or a workout.  It can be made vegan or simply vegetarian.  It’s packed with goodness.  No preservatives.  No ingredients that you can’t pronounce or let alone be able to identify like the store bought counterparts.  It’s also gluten free.  Even the crumbles that break off the bars when slicing can be stored and used to top yogurt or eat straight up.  Okay enough… time to move onto the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups of gluten free rolled oats (I used Bob’s Redmill)
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
1/3 cup of quinoa (uncooked)
Palmful of chopped pepitas
Palmful of sunflower seeds
Palmful of chopped cashews
Palmful of chopped macadamia nuts
*You can use whatever nuts you have on hand or omit some of them.  Exact amounts don’t really matter.
1/2 cup of flaxseed meal
2/3 cup of maple syrup (vegan option) OR you can use a mixture of honey/maple syrup as long as you get to 2/3 cup.  I used 1/2 cup of raw honey and 1/4 cup of maple syrup.
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of golden raisins
1/4 cup of dried tart cherries
Handful of dried pitted prunes, chopped

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  On a lined cookie sheet, add the oats, quinoa, almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, macadamia nuts and flax seed meal.  Toast this combination for about 10-12 minters or until you start to see it just getting golden.  Remove.  While that’s cooking, line an 9×12 glass baking dish with parchment that hangs over the sides.  This will help in removing the granola later.  On the stovetop, in a small sauce pan add the maple syrup or honey or combination of the two and vanilla.  Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.

Add the toasted mixture to a large bowl, add your dried fruit and then pour the hot syrup mixture over the top and coat everything well.  Pour this mixture into your prepared pan and take the back of a spatula and press the mixture so its compacted and solid.  Bake for 25-28 minutes.  The mixture will be soft to the touch but will firm up.  Remove from the oven and let stand about 45 minutes then refrigerate for an hour or more.  Remove and slice.  I store these in tupperware containers.  I also store the crumbles that break off and use for yogurt.

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See below for when I removed the toasted mixture from the oven.  It was just starting to get light brown around the edges.

 

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Mixture all pressed down and ready to bake.

 

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— Knead to Cook

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