Cliff/Granola Bars with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

Things have been crazy over here due to Jamie accepting a new job at a different company! He’s so excited and really can’t wait to start. Much of this weekend was spend being lazy and celebrating…the result of that was that I didn’t make much of anything. Jamie and I are heading to Buffalo on Thursday for our God daughters 1st birthday and we’ve got a couple of friends coming into town on Tuesday so in an attempt to not have left overs, I think we may be eating out/ordering in for dinners this week. It will be an easy week in that sense…but we’re  planning on getting all of our work outs in because of our not-so-healthy week we have planned 😛

This was one of two things I was able to make this weekend and although I’ve actually never had a Cliff  bar before, I imagine that they are similar to these. Usually if I am working out before work in the morning I grab one of these so that I have something in my stomach. These are really quite easy to make and the ingredients are rather interchangeable with what you have around the house. I cut them into smaller bars for me, and larger ones for Jamie. I used almond butter which is pricey, but I find that peanut butter can be a bit overwhelming sometimes (unless you want it to be peanut buttery or are using peanuts in place of almonds.

2 1/2 cups puffed rice or puffed wheat cereal

2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

6 tablespoons ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal or almond meal)

1 cup cup dried fruit (e.g., raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.)

1 cup finely chopped nuts (preferably roasted or toasted)

2/3 cup and 3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons brown sugar (optional but they seem to stick a bit better with sugar)

2/3 cup and 1 tablespoon nut butter (e.g., peanut, almond, cashew, soynut)

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips

1 teaspoon margarine

9×13 pan

Wax paper

Combine the cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, dried fruit, and nuts in a large bowl. This time I toasted silvered almonds and used dried cranberries. I was too lazy to chop either of them up…but I suggest you do. The bars will hold together better in the end.

Bring the honey and brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat (I have used agave nectar for part of the honey/syrup but never used entirely agave), stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in nut butter and vanilla until blended.  (I leave on heat but lower the temp while adding the nut butter and stir until all smooth)

Pour nut butter mixture over cereal mixture (I do this in two batches starting with cereal on the bottom of a bowl, then some of the nut butter mixture, then the rest of the cereal topped with the remaining nut butter mix. It makes it easier to combine!) Stir until all dry ingredients are coated (mixture will be stiff).  The nut butter mix can be hot at first so check temp before moving on to the next step.

Press mixture firmly into an 9×13 (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper. Cool in pan. Cut into whatever size bars are needed in your house.

For chocolate drizzle, place 3 T. of chocolate chips in a resealable plastic bag and microwave in 30 second increments, kneading bag until chocolate has melted. Add the margarine and knead again. Snip a tiny corner of the bag with a pair of scissors.  Pipe chocolate across cooled bars and stick bars in fridge or freezer to allow chocolate to set, if desired.

Wrap bars in wax paper if being eaten soon (they will keep like this for a week or so) or wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.  If storing in the refrigerator, take out and bring to room temp before.

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