Healthy, Hearty Granola Bars

Ok, so this is one of those “make it the way you want” recipes. You can add whatever kind of nuts, dried fruit or chocolate you want. Have fun with it and I promise it’ll be GOOD.

2 cups oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind)

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

**other nut alternatives include almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts or whatever is in your pantry

1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (or any other dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, mangoes, etc. – just make the pieces morsel-sized)

1/3 cup chocolate chips

¾ cup brown rice syrup (you can buy this at most natural foods stores)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a rectangular baking dish, mix the oatmeal and nuts. Toast in oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through for even toasting. Place in large bowl and let cool. Add dried fruit.

Spray empty baking dish with non-stick spray.

Pour brown rice syrup and vanilla into small pot and heat up on medium-high heat until the consistency thins out (about 2-4 minutes). Pour over oatmeal mixture and mix well until blended. Pour into baking dish and sprinkle chocolate chips on top (you can also add it to the mixture, but the chocolate chips will melt and the bars will be more chocolaty).

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting. Yum!