I've said it before [I think], and I'll say it again - homemade is always better. Even if the main ingredients in something are the same as what you buy in the store, it just always tastes better and makes you feel better. Maybe it's a lack of processing or preservatives or the control you have over what you put in but whatever it is, it's pretty much always true.
It's definitely the case with these granola bars. I'm a little excited that they turned out as well as they did [they smell like oatmeal cookies!], and my head is already busy with new flavor combo ideas. They're really easy to make and they taste so much better than store bought. Plus you can tweak them and make them totally to your liking. You can basically sub out all the dry ingredients for anything you want, as long as the total volume is the same, about 5 cups. So go crazy.
For buying your granola bar add-ins, I would definitely recommend finding a place that sells them in bulk. My grocery story has a natural foods section where you can buy nuts and other trail-mixy things by weight. That way you can by only as much as you need and not spend a bunch of money buying larger individual packages of things.
I feel like I need to go camping now...or at least on a long hike through the woods...
Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1.5 c mixture of raw walnuts & almonds (or a combo of your favorite nuts)
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 c dried cranberries or other dried fruit
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
3 T butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1. Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring often.
2. Repeat with the nuts and coconut, being careful that they don't burn.
3. In a food processor, give the nuts and coconut a few pulses to break them up into smaller pieces. Then pulse 1/2 c of the oats until they are finely ground.
4. Mix both oats, the nuts, cranberries and cinnamon in a large bowl.
5. In a small saucepan, cook the honey, butter, brown sugar and salt over medium heat until it bubbles. Let it bubble for about a minute and remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir well.
6. Spray an 8"x8" baking pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.
7. Pour the honey mixture over dry mixture in bowl. Toss well until everything's coated.
8. Turn the mixture out into the pan. Put a plastic baggy over your hand and push the granola down into the pan until it's well packed.
9. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for a few hours then slice into bars. Wrap in wax paper or store in an airtight container.