Every year, my friend Becca makes me the most gorgeous handmade jewelry as a present for my birthday. She just had one herself, and this year I thought my present for her ought to be handmade, too. Becca just became a preschool teacher and she’s on her feet all day long, so I wanted to make her a snack that would keep well for a long time in a backpack or a cubby- remember cubbies? I made sure these granola bars were nut-free so that she could bring them to school with her; the days of PB&J are apparently long gone out of sensitivity to the growing epidemic of peanut allergies in today’s children.
Recycling old copies of NY Times Magazines for the wrapping paper was a nice touch, and one that went much appreciated by my beautiful, green-minded friend. Happy Birthday, Becca!
- 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
- ½ cup toasted wheat germ
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup coconut nectar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 by 12-inch rectangular baking pan, line pan with parchment paper, set aside.
- Pour oatmeal onto a large sheet pan with sides and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring half way, until lightly toasted. Transfer the oatmeal to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
- In a small saucepan, bring the butter, coconut nectar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stir well, then off the heat and pour the butter and sugar mixture into the bowl with the toasted oatmeal and wheat germ. Add the sunflower seeds and cranberries, stir well. Let cool completely for at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t solidify too much, before adding the chocolate chips.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. With a spatula, lightly press the mixture evenly into a flat, even layer in the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Let cool and set for at least an hour before slicing into rectangular bars. Yields about 12 bars.