These bars are great! They are the kind of bars that you can throw together with whatever ingredients you have in your pantry. For example, if you do not have maple syrup but have honey, you can use the honey as a substitute. You can use whatever dried fruit you have at home, whether that's raisins, cranberries, apricots, or something else! You can also replace pecans with a different nut. I use Bob's Red Mill brand for the hot cereal, but you can find other options in the cereal aisle of your local grocery store. For those who have issues with lactose or cows milk, I have made these bars with almond milk, and they turned out great. I have also made them with peanut butter and chocolate chips. Just make sure to cool the mixture before you add the chocolate chips. My favorite nut butter to use is almond, because it is readily available and does not overwhelm the other ingredients' flavors. These bars are packed full of nutritional value! Why not give them a try?
When my father-in-law was going through chemo a couple of winters ago, I made these bars for him, because they are protein rich as well as full of other nutrients. He enjoyed eating them too! My family also enjoys eating them as snacks. They take these bars with them when they plan to be out all day running errands or travelling. They are very filling and help abate their hunger when they don't have time or the inclination to get food.
I like to cut these bars into sixteen serving squares and individually wrap them with plastic wrap (this makes them travel-friendly). I put them in a gallon size freezer bag and place them in the freezer, so that they can last for several months if need be. Honestly, they disappear within a month at my house! I find that they defrost in a hour at room temperature, though often my family will allow them to defrost on the go. You can also defrost them in the microwave for 45 seconds at 30% power.
I encourage you to have fun and experiment with this recipe. Let me know what combinations you try and which is your favorite! I would love to hear from you either in our comment section below this post or our message box on our contact page!
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup dried fruit
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup multigrain hot cereal
1 cup natural unsweetened nut or seed butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure maple extract (or vanilla extract)
Line 8 inch square baking pan with foil (or parchment paper) and spray with cooking spray. Heat 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place oats and pecans in skillet and 'sauté' (stir constantly) until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl. If you don't have a food processor, don't worry! You can finely chop (into small pieces) your dried fruit with a sharp knife. The smaller dried fruit (like cranberries, blueberries, and cherries) you may leave as is if desired. If you do have a food processor, place dried fruit (I like to use cranberries) in a food processor and process until finely chopped (but not a paste). Transfer the fruit to the large bowl with the oat mixture. You can stir in the ground cinnamon now if you desire it.
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cereal and remove from heat. Let this mixture stand two minutes. Add the nut or seed butter (I usually use almond butter), maple syrup, and salt to the cereal and milk mixture. Cook and stir this mixture over low heat for 7 minutes; remove saucepan from the heat and stir in maple extract. Immediately, add this cereal mixture to the oat mixture with a spatula. Stir to combine mixtures.
Transfer the oat and cereal blend to your prepared pan. Place large piece of parchment paper or wax paper on top of bar mixture. Use the paper to spread, flatten, and very firmly compact the blend evenly in the pan. Cool the mixture completely and let stand at least 2 hours until firm. Using the liner, lift mixture from pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut your energy bars into 16 individual squares.
(edited by Anna Weicht)