Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pack up a little love - Granola Bars

My oldest daughter still lives 2,505 miles away in California. I see things that remind me of her all the time. I pick little things up for her when I am out and put them in a pile on the hall table. When I have enough gathered I scribble a note and send them to her in a package. My 80 plus mother still does the same thing for me. I will get an envelope from her with clippings and prayer cards and a “thinking of you” note. I imagine her setting a little pile aside for each of my sisters and me.

In today’s world of instant messaging and instant gratification I think something coming via “snail” mail is all the more exciting. So I started baking these granola bars to include in the occasional package to loved ones. You can wrap them individually. They are sturdy and travel well and they have a good shelf life. I have doubled the recipe because I can’t bake them without making sure after I shoot some off in the mail I have some around the house for the “walking out the door” breakfast or “throw in your purse” snack.

Granola Bars

4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup toasted flax or wheat germ
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chopped dried cherries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a half sheet pan with Pam, line with parchment paper and spray again, making sure you get the sides covered as well. 

On another sheet pan lined with foil, toss the oatmeal, almonds, sunflowers seeds and flax together and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

While the oats are toasting, place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then remove from heat.

When the oat mixture is done, use the foil to help you transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl by lifting up the edges to form a funnel  to guide it into the bowl. Add the honey from the saucepan and mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Lay another sheet of parchment on top and using a small roller or your hands press the mixture evenly into the pan. I have a little 4-inch wooden roller that I love for jobs like these.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool and cut into bars. I cut them 3 across and 7 or 8 down. You can wrap them individually in plastic wrap or buy cellophane bags at the craft store.

Any combination of nuts or fruit will work with this recipe adapted from Ina Garten's Granola Bar recipe. Sometimes I just chop up whatever is in the cabinet. I have used Splenda Brown sugar and it worked well too. I have added peanut butter. If you like a crunchier bar, cook the honey mixture longer on the stove and cook in the oven a few minutes longer. My family likes the softer chewier kind so I make sure I don't overcook the honey mixture and remove the bars from the oven when they get a nice golden color.

Send some to a friend! They will be so pleased you were thinking of them!



  1. This looks goooood. Kate's very lucky to be getting care packages like this :)

  2. Hi Aunt Lisa!

    I have been following your blog pretty avidly and love it! Yum yum!

    Hope everything is going well!

  3. Lisa,

    I got it, thanks for all the yummy recipes...


  4. Awww Mom! How cute are you?! I love your packages, best mom ever!