Oatmeal Trail Mix Bars



I`m hitting the trail again this week.

No, not running, hiking or biking — why would I do that? I get plenty of exercise in the kitchen, with all that whisking and lifting of heavy saucepans and such. You should see the guns on this diva. Plus, my kitchen is like Dance Party USA when I’m creating new recipes, a booty shake here, a cup of sugar there, it’s really all the workout I need. That’s what I keep telling myself, at least.

So this week, the dessert may not sound as enticing as some that have come before it, but it is tasty, on the healthier side, and perfect with all the back-to-school craziness many households endure. Oatmeal Trail Mix Bars.

Yee haw! We are making our own granola bars. These are perfect for lunchboxes, after-school snacks or, of course, dessert. Packed with my favorite combo of nuts, dried cranberries, dark chocolate and oatmeal, the kiddos won’t know what hit ‘em. It’s something that tastes delicious and is good for kids and adults alike.

I’m using half butter, half mashed banana for the fat content. There’s only a tad bit of sugar in the bars — I’m using agave nectar to really sweeten these bad boys. I like almonds, sunflower seeds and walnuts, but you could use your faves. I love the tartness the dried cranberries give, and the texture. If your kids (or you) like dried blueberries or dried cherries, use them, since any dried fruit works.

Darn, the options I’m giving you are endless. I’m such a giver, they should really name a foundation after me.

I should add that I am using dark chocolate because of the health benefits. Even if you have peeps who don’t care for dark chocolate (whatever), you should know, with all the other ingredients, they will never know. The chocolate blends in perfectly, and has a mellow flavor combined with the oatmeal and agave nectar. So load up, dark chocolate lovers.

Back to my heavy lifting and whisking. Gotta get my workout in. I wonder if the lifting of one’s wine glass to the mouth and down counts as arm exercises. I sure hope so.

Now follow the directions, put some love into it, and invite me over when it’s done.

Oatmeal Trail Mix Bars

1-1/2 cups flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted softened butter

1 ripe mashed banana

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups oatmeal (quick cook oats)

1 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper (let edges hang over slightly to pull bars out of pan). Lightly grease.

In small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside. In large bowl, combine butter and banana. Add in brown sugar and agave nectar. Mix in eggs and vanilla, stir batter until well-combined. Stir flour mixture into wet mixture.

Fold oatmeal into batter. Fold in cranberries, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts.

Press mixture into prepared pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is golden brown. Take out and let cool. Grab edges of foil (or parchment) and pull out onto counter. Cut into bars. Enjoy!

Note: The nuts and dry fruit can be altered. This combo is my favorite, but you can can change it up and still come out with a great-tasting bar.

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