Whole Living Daily

Naturally Sweet: Chocolate Hazelnut Granola Bars

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Healthy granola bars can be a great snack and source of pick-me-up energy. But it's tough to find store-bought granola bars without added sugar, preservatives, and more unnatural stuff. I looked up the ingredients for an  "oats-and-honey" granola bar that was my favorite during childhood. The first three ingredients are: whole-grain oats, sugar, and canola oil (and the list continues...).  So I made my own version. These homemade bars are complete with omega-3s, protein, fiber, and ... chocolate! The best thing is that when they cool they achieve the perfect crunchy texture.

Chocolate Hazelnut Granola Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup puffed crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon flax seed
1/2 cup honey (raw local is best)
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (the all-natural or raw spreads are best, or you can use--gasp!--Nutella)
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup nuts (I like almonds or walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper, letting it drape slightly over the sides of the pan.

3. Chop the nuts. In a large bowl stir together rolled oats, crispy rice cereal, coconut flakes, and flax seed. Add in honey, chocolate hazelnut spread, vanilla extract, and stir until blended.

4. Spread and press evenly onto parchment-lined baking pan and bake in a preheated oven on the center rack for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown. Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. (Resist the urge to cut or handle the bars until they are cool.) Once pan is cool to the touch, lift parchment paper from pan and set granola on parchment pan until almost completely cooled.

To make eight full-sized bars, cut down the center and then cut each section into 4 evenly sized bars per section. Cut them all in half again for 16 small squares.

For more healthy dessert recipes, head here.

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