Granola Bars—think outside the box

I get really frustrated with the need for quick snacks for my now-in-school 3 year-old boy. It’s nice that there are healthy versions, if you will, of “regular” foods.  You know, you can get organic chicken nuggets or no refined sugar cookies or all natural crackers instead of Cheez-its.  It’s all wonderful and I’m grateful for it.  That being said, it still bothers me how much money I spend on processed foods. Yeah, the apple bars are organic, but they still come in a box and they still sometimes have more ingredients than I like to see going into my kids body.
Therefore, I like to make and bake at home as much as I can. It’s hard, though, to find the time and energy. Sometimes I get on “kicks” and given that this is my boy’s first week of school and I have to provide lunch, I am officially on a “kick.”
My latest obsession—Granola Bars.  He loves them. I think they are too expensive and too sweet (even the all natural ones). So, this week, I made my own.  It was easy, the ingredients were things I had on hand, and he got to help me, so it’s a win-win (win?).
I plan to experiment—maybe try different dried fruits and peanut butter, but for now, I give you:

CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA BARS

4 cups organic quick oats
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic mini-chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped organic walnuts (or nut of your choice)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9×13” baking dish.
2. Spread oats onto a cookie sheet (don’t grease it) and bake for 15 minutes. Stir them a couple of times.  Allow them to cool completely.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the oats.  Spread the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down to compact it.
4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely and cut into bars.

You can totally freeze these bad boys, too if you find you’ve got too many on your hands. They are totally yummy, all natural and WAY less costly than the boxes you buy at the market. In fact, I’m munching on one right now!