Friday, January 8, 2016

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I have been making these granola bars for my kid's lunches.  I make them into a 9x13 pan, cut them into about 24 bars, put them into individual baggies and put them in the freezer.  I always pack lunches the night before.  The frozen granola bar is thawed in plenty of time for lunch.  They actually thaw in about 10 minutes.  Sometimes, I put some out before I run out to pick up the kids and they are thawed in time for lunch.  My kids love these granola bars.  I think they have less sugar and far less additives than the grocery store varieties.  Enjoy!!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

4 c old fashioned oats* 
½ c unsalted butter
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
2/3 c honey
1 t vanilla* 
4 cups puffed rice cereal* 
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350o.  Spread out the old fashioned oats on a baking sheet.  Toast the oats in the preheated oven for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant to enhance the flavor. 
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  Using the parchment paper will make them easier to remove and cut into bars later. 

In a sauce pan, melt butter, brown sugar, and honey over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a slight simmer for a 1-2 minutes.   Remove from heat, cooling slightly.  Then mix in vanilla.  In a large bowl, combine the toasted oats and puffed rice cereal.  Pour the slightly cooled honey mixture over the oat mixture, stirring to coat.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing firmly.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and press into granola slightly.  Chill for about one hour prior to cutting.  Put each cut granola bars into individual small baggies.  Put the individual bags into a large freezer bag and freeze until ready to use.  Set out for about 10 minutes before eating. 

*Gluten-free notes:
– Oats are often processed on the same equipment as wheat and other gluten.  You can buy certified gluten-free oats. 
– Vanilla can contain gluten.  I use McCormick pure vanilla extract.
– Rice Krispie has a gluten-free option, as do some other brands.

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