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Well and Good: Homemade Energy Bars

Homemade energy bars have been my baking obsession lately.  Because they’re chock full of nuts and seeds and other healthy ingredients, I can feel like I’m making something healthy – but they’re still sweet and moist enough to make it seem like I’m getting a treat.

This basic recipe started with a butter-rich granola bar recipe from www.smittenkitchen.com, but through trial and error, has evolved into a vegan goodie that’s more like a dense bar cookie or energy bar. The original recipe noted that this is a forgiving recipe, and that you can mix and match ingredients to your taste. For instance, you can use any kinds of nuts, seeds and fruit, as long as you use about 2.5 to 3 cups in total. You can also use peanut butter instead of almond butter, but we think that almond butter has a more neutral flavor.

This is the mix that we like best at my house. If you want a smoother bar, you can put the seeds, coconut and nuts through the food processor too.

Homemade Energy Bars
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups rolled oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup almond butter
3 Tbs oil
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 Tbs agave nectar OR honey
3 Tbs turbinado  sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs water

Lightly toast coconut in dry pan over medium heat, shaking pan or stirring frequently, until light golden brown.

If desired, toast seeds and nuts in similar manner.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to overhang the sides by a few inches.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, salt, coconut, almonds, seeds and cherries. Set aside.

In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, or a mixing bowl, combine almond butter, oil, rice syrup, agave nectar or honey, sugar, vanilla and water.  Stir well to combine.

Pour liquid over dry ingredients and stir well to combine. If mixture appears too dry, add up to one more tablespoon of water.  Press firmly into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until edges are just beginning to brown.

Cool completely. Cut into bars and wrap each bar tightly plastic, or place all in tightly closed plastic container, with waxed paper between layers.