Granola Bars for New Parents

by Laura

We have a lot of friends right now who are new parents or expecting and I always struggle to think of a thoughtful gift to take when the new baby arrives. I think you can't go wrong with food dropped on the doorstep. Katherine tipped me off to these granola bars from Smitten Kitchen a while back, and it has been my go-to for new parents ever since. They are delicious and can be a great snack or breakfast, they are relatively healthy and there are infinite variations depending on personal taste and what you have on hand.

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups oats

1/3 cup oats ground in food processor (can also use oat flour)

2/3 granulated sugar

3/4 tsp kosher salt

dash of cinnamon

2 cups mixed nuts (I like pecans best, but have used combinations of walnuts, pecans and cashews and all are delicious)

1/2 cup dried fruit (I have used raisins, craisins and a combination of the two. Want to try dried mango next!)

1/4 cup coconut

1/4 cup flax meal 

1/3 cup peanut butter (softened in microwave for 30-45 seconds)

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare an 8" x 8" glass pan with parchment paper so it hangs off the sides (makes it easy to pop out after cooking!). Spray pan with non-stick spray. 

Mix together both oats, sugar, salt, nuts, fruit, coconut and flax meal in a large bowl. Note that you can use varying proportions of the fruit/nut/coconut concoction depending on your taste (e.g. leave out all the fruit, add chocolate chips, etc.). In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and then combine with the dry ingredients. Spread the mixture into prepared pan (it comes up almost all the way to the top of the pan - don't worry!). Cook for 30 minutes or until they are golden on top and around the edges. Let cool and then cut into squares.

Taste one just to make sure they are good before delivering to friends -- it is the right thing to do!