Tropical Granola Bars

tropical-granola-bars

It’s that home from school, “Mom, I’m hungry!” time again!
And these tropical island inspired granola bars had the neighbor kids asking for the recipe so they could have their mom make them at home.

Whole oats, shredded coconut, coarse chopped dried bananas, sweet dried pineapple, and a hint of orange create a quick, satisfying snack perfect for school lunches or afternoon neighborhood adventures.

Gluten free, easy to make, chock full of good-for-you ingredients, and approved by the neighbor kids-what more could you ask for in a snack recipe?

Note:
My favorite thing about homemade granola bars? The way they can be customized.
Don’t like cashews? Replace one for one with another type of nut or dried ingredient- wheat germ is a favorite.  (If adding wheat germ, please note that this recipe will no longer be gluten free.)
Don’t like dried bananas? Increase the amount of another dried fruit ingredient or replace with an additional type- craisins are a great option.
The key to good homemade granola bars is keeping the same ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Inside those boundaries, have fun and get creative!

*Did you make this recipe or a variation? Share your thoughts and variations in the comments below!

Tropical Granola Bars

Ingredients:
6 cups gluten free rolled oats
1 cup almonds, coarse chopped
1 cup cashew pieces
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup flaxseed, or flaxseed meal
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (if desired)

1 cup dried banana slices, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried pineapple chunks, or coarsely chopped rings
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Add all dried ingredients, except fruit and coconut to a large mixing bowl. Toss with melted coconut oil until thoroughly mixed.

Line two large baking pans (approx. 13 in x 18 in) or three medium baking pans (10 in x 13 in) with parchment paper and spread oat mixture evenly across pans.
Toast in oven for 15-20 minutes or until oats and nuts are fragrant and golden brown. Stir halfway through cooking time.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325F.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, orange juice, and molasses. Heat and stir until brown sugar is dissolved, mixture is smooth, and bubbles just begin to form around the edges of the saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in desired extracts.

Place oat mixture back in large mixing bowl. Pour liquid mix over oats, stirring thoroughly in between so that oats and nuts are completely coated.

Stir in dried fruit.

Using the same baking pans covered with parchment paper, divide granola bar mixture evenly between pans. Lay an extra piece of parchment paper on top of mixture and press down firmly with both hands across the pan, making sure to get the edges.
(Note: Taking an extra minute to press down firmly and evenly across both pans will help granola bars to stay together after cutting.)

Remove extra parchment paper and place pans in oven. Bake until golden, about 25-30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 2-3 hours.

Once cool, use edges of parchment paper to lift and move bars to a large cutting board.  Cut bars into desired size with a large sharp knife or pizza cutter.

Store in resealable gallon bag with waxed paper between layers to prevent bars from sticking together.

Makes 30-40 bars depending on cut size.

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