School is back in session and at the end of the day, my girls come home not just hungry, but starving. To satisfy their growling stomachs and work some healthy whole grains into their snack, I made these Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars with Milled Flax Seed as an afternoon treat. These delicious granola bars were amazingly easy to put together and taste so much better than anything you could buy at the store. The bars are sweet, chewy and filled to the brim with goodies like oats, puffed rice, coconut, sliced almonds, chocolate chips, dried cherries and a generous amount of Hodgson Mill Milled Flax Seed. Why bother putting milled flax seed into your granola bars? Not only does it add heart-healthy Omega 3-Oils, it also adds an additional six grams of protein to this recipe, which is particularly helpful when I'm looking for a snack to hold my kids over until dinner.
By using milled flax seed versus whole flax seed, your body is more easily able to digest and absorb the beneficial nutrients involved. The texture is also much finer which helps when you want to add it to a recipe undetected, like in your kids’ granola bars. Stealth health as we say at Hodgson Mill. It’s a good thing.
The first thing you need to do to make these granola bars is to make some oat flour. If you happen to have some pre-made oat flour on hand, go ahead and use that. Otherwise, it’s simple to make your own.
Put the oats, either old-fashioned or quick-cooking, into a food processor and process until the oats resemble a coarse powder, about 2 minutes. That’s it. Set aside.
Next, give the dried cherries a rough chop so they’re in smaller pieces. Set aside.
This recipe is versatile so feel free to substitute other dried fruit in place of the cherries or even different nuts, chocolate chips and spices if you like.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, puffed rice, sugar, milled flax seed, salt, cinnamon, coconut, cherries, chocolate chips and sliced almonds. Stir everything together.
In a small bowl (I used a Pyrex measuring cup), mix the honey, butter and orange juice together.
Pour the honey butter mixture over the dry ingredients and toss together with a fork until everything is moistened. The mixture will be somewhat sticky, but still fairly dry.
Pour the mixture into a foil-lined 8- or 9-inch baking dish that’s been heavily sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Press the oat mixture into the pan with your fingers until it’s firmly situated in the pan. It helps to spray your fingers lightly with non-stick cooking spray to keep the granola from sticking to you as you press it down.
Bake the granola in a 350oF oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the baked granola from the oven and cool for 30 minutes, in the pan, on a wire rack. Then put the baking dish in the refrigerator for an hour or longer before slicing to give the granola a chance to firm up. I kept mine in the fridge overnight and most of a day before getting back to it and it was still fine.
When sufficiently chilled, remove the granola from the refrigerator and using the foil as handles, lift the granola out of the pan. Peel back and discard the aluminum foil and place the baked granola on a cutting board. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the block into 15 bars or however many pieces you want.
Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks – although they probably won’t last that long after you’ve had a taste.
I have to admit, when I first thought about making granola bars, part of me wondered if it would be a waste of time since it’s so easy to pick up a box at the store. But, just like after I made my first batch of Hodgson Mill Crunchy Cinnamon Wheat Germ Granola, I realized how easy, delicious and satisfying it is to make my own and these granola bars are no exception. The combination of coconut, cherries, sliced almonds and chocolate chips makes these treats taste amazing and the Hodgson Mill Milled Flax Seed makes them better for us than most pre-packaged granola bars.
If you have children who come home starving after a long day at school or you’re looking for a new snack idea, keep these Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars with Milled Flax Seed in mind. You may even have all of the ingredients you need to make them in your pantry right now. Enjoy!
Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars with Milled Flax Seed
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
- 3/4 cup puffed rice cereal
- 1/2 cup oat flour (about 1 cup whole oats = 1/2 cup pulverized oat flour)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
- 4 Tbsp Hodgson Mill Milled Flax Seed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup coconut shredded, sweetened or unsweetened
- 1/2 cup dried cherries roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds (I used honey-roasted sliced almonds)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 1 Tbsp orange juice fresh
In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed rice, oat flour, sugar, milled flax seed, salt, cinnamon, coconut, cherries, sliced almonds and chocolate chips. Stir together. In a small bowl, mix honey, butter and orange juice together. Pour honey-butter mixture over dry ingredients and toss together with a fork until everything is moistened. The mixture will be somewhat sticky, but still fairly dry. Pour mixture into a foil-lined 8- or 9-inch baking dish heavily sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Press oat mixture into pan with fingers until firmly situated in pan. Spray fingers lightly with non-stick cooking spray to keep granola from sticking to fingers while pressing.
Bake granola in a 350oF oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove baked granola from oven and cool for 30 minutes, in pan, on a wire rack. Put baking dish in refrigerator for an hour or longer before slicing so granola becomes firm.
Remove granola from refrigerator and use foil to help lift granola out of pan. Peel back and discard aluminum foil and place baked granola on a cutting board. Use a long, sharp knife to cut baked granola into 15 bars or the desired number of pieces.
Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Makes approximately 15 granola bars
Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook