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Man I wish I had discovered these sooner. See I've always been a fan of chewy granola bars, but because these types of bars typically aren't baked, getting them to set properly while still being nice and chewy is a challenge. I've had success exploiting the stretchy gelatin quality of melted marshmallows, but as good as they are, I admit that not everyone wants to toss marshmallows into a "healthy" granola bar.
These bars have enlightened me. Scouring recipes for an oatmeal bar cookie, I came across a no-bake version from Chocolate Covered Katie. How to hold the oat bars together? Raisins. Simply process a mix of raisins, oats, and nuts in the food processor. The sticky raisins become the glue. Genius! I took Katie's cue and pulsed up a batch big enough to press into an 8- by 8-inch pan, tweaking a few amounts along the way and stirring in some nutty sunflower seeds.
The raisins provide the all the sweetness and there's no extra fat. Add in some flax seeds or wheat germ and you've got one heck of a healthy and natural snack or breakfast bar. Plus, the texture is pitch perfect from the pectin—not too sticky and with the satisfying and hearty chew that you expect. No lie, these are really chewy!
This recipe lets a food processor do the work, but it's so incredibly fast and easy that I couldn't pass it up. The possible variations are endless, and any dried fruit should work to hold these bars together. Cranberries, apricots, dates...in the kitchen I come.
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