At Cal-Wood we literally go through hundreds of granola bars each week.  Since I first started at Cal-Wood a year ago I wanted to make the granola bars from scratch.  I started a few recipes last year but they were either too thick or fell apart.  I needed something that would hold together in a back pack but was not hard on the teeth.  My first trial recipes were also time-consuming and I had to keep labor costs down as well as cost of ingredients.  I scrapped the plan when we started getting busy for spring and summer and vowed to come back to it in the new year.

This year I have had success.  I researched different granola bar recipes on the internet and finally came up with one that was both chewy and sturdy.  This is a healthy snack treat that will keep the kids going with energy while out hiking.  My family loves these granola bars as a mid-afternoon snack while home-schooling.

The best part about these granola bars is that they are gluten-free and dairy free.  They taste great and kids on special diets do not feel like they are missing out.

Inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, King Arthur Flour and Ina Garten.

Granola Bars

1  2/3  Cups Whole Oats

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/3 Cup Oat Flour (process oats in food processor for 2-3 minutes until finely ground)

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

2 Cups Dried Fruit and Nuts (optional)

6 Tablespoons Canola Oil

1/4 Cup Corn Syrup, Maple Syrup or Honey

1 Tablespoon Water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 inch baking pan with foil or parchment and coat with non-stick spray.

Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl. wish together oil. liquid sweeteners, vanilla and water.  Add to dry ingredients.

Stir until combined.  Spread mixture into baking pan and press down until firmly molded into pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for 3 hours or overnight before cutting.  Store in the freezer for best results.

Tasty Variations:  Add 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1 cup coconut shreds to replace fruit and nuts.

Add 1 cups sliced almonds for fruit and nut mixture and substitute corn syrup for all maple syrup.

Add 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons orange zest.

Add 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds with 1 cup dried cranberries and substitute cinnamon for all spice.

Add dried mango, apricot and pineapple for 2 cups fruit and 1 cup coconut shreds for a tropical bar.