Three cheers for summer! The beginning of summer is such a big adjustment. It’s great that we don’t have to rush out the door as quickly as most mornings. On the other hand, with the kids spending a lot of time together, it usually means loud chaos and frequent fighting, followed by loving each other, then fighting, then loving each other, then fighting. Let’s just say summer can be a great time to practice large deep breaths. However, you can’t beat swimming and sunshine! When my kids are home, they like to snack. For some reason at school, they can go long stretches of time without food, but as soon as they’re home, they want food All. The. Time. Granola bars are such an easy go-to food, and they’re pretty filling to boot. This granola bar recipe was a big hit with my kids; they were constantly asking for them. I ended up cutting them in half to give them a smaller portion and make the bars last longer. My husband, kids, and I liked the granola bars so much we would have gobbled them all up in 2 seconds if I allowed it. The granola bars are chewy and sweet with a delightful peanut butter banana flavor. The chunks of chocolate with the tart cranberries, rounded off nicely with the toasted cashews, make the granola bars exquisite. I hope you, your family, your friends, and loved ones enjoy them as much as we did!

Chewy Homemade Granola Bars [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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Serves

12 large granola bars

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Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 tsp. coconut oil, for greasing pan or cooking spray
  • ½ cup cashews, raw & unsalted
  • 4 cups Gluten Free Extra Thick Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (soy, dairy & gluten free)
  • 3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
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Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread raw cashews on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile lightly grease a square brownie pan or 9x13 inch pan with coconut oil; alternatively you can use cooking spray.
  4. When the cashews are cooled, chop into smaller pieces.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients – cashew pieces, oats, cranberries, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and flaxseed meal, stir and set aside.
  6. Using a paring knife careful slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the back of the knife, gently run it along the inside of the vanilla bean scraping the seeds out. Repeat for the other half of the vanilla bean. Alternatively you can use 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract.
  7. In a medium saucepan over low heat add vanilla bean seeds, peanut butter, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, and mashed banana. Stir for a few minutes until melted and mixed together.
  8. Add the peanut butter syrup mixture to the large mixing bowl with oats. Stir until everything is evenly coated.
  9. Place granola into the pan. Press down firmly with the back of a spoon or the back of a measuring cup.
  10. Refrigerate granola for 50 minutes, and then freeze for 10 minutes before removing from pan and/or cutting.
  11. Keep granola bars stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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