Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars

Makes 12-16 bars


3 ½ cups rolled oats, divided

1 cup roasted and salted peanuts, divided

1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, divided

¼ cup flaxseeds

6 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup honey

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cup coarsely chopped dried strawberries, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, or plums (or a mixture)

Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.  Spray a 9X13-inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper so that there is a 1-inch overhang on both sides.  Spray the parchment.

Place 1 cup of the oats, ½ cup peanuts, and ½ cup of the coconut in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse the mixture several times until it is coarsely chopped.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining oats, peanuts, coconut, and the flaxseeds.  Add the mixture from the food processor and stir to blend.

Place the butter and honey in a medium sauce pan set over medium low heat, stirring until the butter has melted.  Add the peanut butter and brown sugar, stirring until the mixture is smooth and the brown sugar has dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and vanilla.

Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl, and stir with a rubber spatula or large spoon until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the chopped fruit.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan, pressing down with a lightly oiled or buttered spatula to evenly compress.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Allow the pan to cool and rest for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.  Trim the edges of the rectangle, and divide it in half lengthwise using a very sharp knife.  Cut each half crosswise into bars and either serve immediately or wrap to pack into lunches!