I have always loved chewy granola bars and have made them at home for several years now. I have attempted many different versions and have finally perfected (for me) a chewy granola bar without using refined sugar. That's my favorite part!
Dried fruits are extremely sweet and require very little added sweetness. You can omit it entirely if desired but I find that by adding some maple syrup I get the chewy consistency that I have been searching for. It also acts as a great binder to keep the bars soft, chewy and delicious!
Organic Chewy Granola Bars
1/3 c. raisins
1/3 c. prunes
4 large pitted dates
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 T. molasses
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. rolled oats, divided
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. chopped dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side. Lightly butter the parchment paper.
In a large food processor fitted with a steel blade add raisins, prunes, dates, syrup, molasses and vanilla. Process until mixture resembles a thick paste scraping down sides as necessary.
Add 1/2 cup of oats and process until oats are finely chopped.
Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add remaining oats, almonds, walnuts and cranberries. Stir until well combined.
Press mixture evenly into prepared pan using damp or lightly buttered hands to prevent sticking.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let pan cool on a wire rack.
Gently lift parchment out of pan (with granola bars) and transfer to a cutting board. Cut to desired size. I usually like to cut into 12 equal bars and wrap each bar in plastic wrap. Alternatively you can store bars in an airtight container layered with parchment so bars don't stick together.