honey nut granola bar
photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 20 bars.

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup honey
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup chopped pitted dates
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8×12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, nuts, seeds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300°.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, orange extract, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 1 minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cherries, and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.