Homemade Protein Granola Bars (prep time 5 min, cook time 30 min, makes 12 bars)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (about 10) medjool dates, pitted* (can substitute raisins but soak 10 minutes in warm water first)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or any nut butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups any combination of nuts/seeds: pistachios, walnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Preparations:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Process the dates or raisins in the bowl of a food processor for 40-50 seconds. The chopped date pieces should stick together.
  3. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the peanut butter into the honey. Add the dates from the food processor, stirring until the heat breaks down the dates and the mixture is thick and spreadable. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. Return the bowl to the food processor. Process the 2 cups of nuts/seeds into small chunks.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: chopped nuts/seeds from food processor, oats, salt and shredded coconut. Stir the date/honey mixture into the dry ingredients. You may need to use your hands to make sure the dry ingredients are completely covered with the sticky date mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture into the parchment-lined baking dish. Press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the granola is golden and the sides begin to slightly brown (make sure not to burn).
  7. Remove the granola from the oven and lift the parchment (with the granola inside) out of the pan to cool. Allow the granola to cool for 10 minutes, then slice the granola into 12 bars with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. It’s important to slice the bars when the granola is warm. If any of the granola falls apart, simply shape bars back together. Once cool, enjoy the bars or store in the freezer or on the counter (in a sealed container) for later. Keeps in fridge for 1 week or freeze.
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