I've been wanting to try to make my own granola bars for a while now. Doug loves the Nature Valley Trail Mix bars, and takes one to work each day. My goal was to copy them, and I found a great recipe online, and have copied it below. (You should really check out the link, however, as the step-by-step photos are great.) Minus the almonds, these are nearly identical! And he said they even taste more "natural." One more thing - I found that the waxed paper stuck like glue to the bars, even with nonstick spray. I think next time I will just spray the glass pan and use wax paper just to press down on the bars and then remove it while they're still warm.
Here's a little video with the girls' critique:
2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts, crushed
2/3 cup brown sugar (can reduce to 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
approximately 8 oz. dried fruit
(*I used 1/2 raisins and 1/2 dried cranberries)
(*Nature Valley includes almonds in their Trail Mix bars, but I didn't have any)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
To crush your peanuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup, or sauce pan.
Then, mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.
Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 11 x 13 inches) (*I used 9x13) for your granola by spraying with a nonstick spray.
Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let it bubble and get frothy, stirring constantly for 1 minute. This will caramelize the sugars and become the glue to help the bars stick together.
By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit. Mix everything w because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.
Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them. Remove the wax paper.
Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled.
Carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper.
Now, firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like. * We like to get 20 bars from a 9x13 pan.
I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper (so they don’t stick together).