These bars are a delicious treat that can boost your energy when you're hungry and need a boost, but don't have time for a meal. Great to share with first responders, to put into lunch boxes, and those doing strenuous activity, like our current tornado cleanup volunteers.
Fruit and nut energy bars with chocolate by Mama Steph
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
2 cups dried fruit (I used cranberries and dates, or substitute raisins, dried apples, peaches, cherries, etc.)
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
3/4 cup chocolate chips (regular or mini)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine fruit, nuts, oats, chocolate chips, and cereal, making sure to evenly distribute all ingredients.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the honey, peanut butter, and sugar. Stir to combine, then place in microwave. Cook for a minute or just over a minute, until it starts to bubble up. Carefully remove so you don't get burned. Stir again.
4. Pour liquid into the nut and fruit mixture. With a rubber or silicone spatula, stir and stir until it's completely combined. It should be a stick mixture, with no dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl. It it seems too dry, add another 1/4 cup honey and stir it in well to moisten.
5. Using fingers coated with butter or spray, press the mixtures into the baking dish. Press really hard and evenly across the bottom of the pan. Must be really compressed so the bars hold together after cutting.
6. Refrigerate the bars, then when very firm, cut them into bars or small squares, whatever your preference. May be individually wrapped for easy sharing or packing in lunches.