These granola bars are nice and soft with good-for-you ingredients. It's nice to have these on hand when you need a quick breakfast or snack.
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds, pecans, pistachios or walnuts **See Note**
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries **See Note**
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper overhang on two opposite sides so you can easily remove the bars from the pan.
Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, honey, butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are completely coated with the pumpkin mixture.
Pour the wet granola mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the edges. Using your fingers, press down firmly on the granola so that it's tightly packed in the pan.
Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes, until the top turns a light golden brown and feels dry to the touch. Remove pan from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Lift bars from pan using the parchment paper and transfer to a cutting board. Using a large knife, cut the granola bars into 16 bars about 1 1/2 x 4 inches each.
Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
**Note: The smaller you chop the nuts and cranberries (or cherries) the better the bars will hold together.**
Makes 16 bars
Source: The Looneyspoons Collection- Janet &Greta Podleski