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Crispy Honey Nut Granola Bars

Makes 12-16 granola bars

Ingredients

1½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup sliced almonds
⅔ cup shredded unsweetened coconut (available at Whole Foods or natural food markets)
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup crisp rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. 

2. Spread the oats, walnuts and almonds onto prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast for 7 minutes.  Add coconut and toss well, then place back in the oven to cook about 6-8 minutes more. Keep an eye on it towards the end; you want the coconut to turn golden but not burn.

3. In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir with a whisk until the brown sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off heat and set aside.

4. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Combine the the oat mixture, honey mixture and rice cereal in a large bowl and toss well. (Reserve aluminum foil.)

5. Use the reserved foil to line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, then spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Turn granola bar mixture out into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly, being careful not to press down too hard. Bake for 20 minutes (be sure heat is reduced to 300 degrees). Remove from the oven and cool completely, about 1-1½ hours. Use the foil overhang to tranfer bars to cutting board, then use a large knife to cut into rectangles. Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to a week (do not stack the bars or they will stick together and fall apart).

*You can swap in your favorite nuts and seeds as long as you keep the proportions of dry to wet ingredients the same. You can also toss in some dried fruit. On occasion, I’ll sprinkle some chocolate chips over top for the kids (you can't mix them in or they'll melt).

**Be sure your oven is fully preheated before toasting nuts; the initial blast of heat to preheat the oven can burn them.