Energy Bars

These fruit-and-nut bars are super-easy to make and easy to adapt to your own tastes. Love pecans? Use all pecans. More of a mixed-nut person? Use mixed nuts. Keep trying these bars with different ingredients: We also like toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or pumpkin seeds in place of some of the nuts. We’re not sure why, but every now and then, these don’t turn out quite right — they’re crumbly instead of firm. If this happens, use it as a fruit or yogurt topping and call it “granola”!

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Hands-on time: 10   |    Total time: 10   |    Makes: 16 Pieces

KITCHEN GEAR

Cutting board
Dinner knife
8 x 8-inch pan
Wax or parchment paper
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Medium-sized bowl
Small bowl
Large spoon
Plastic wrap

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup lightly toasted nuts
3⁄4 cup dried fruit
3⁄4 cup quick-cooking oats
3⁄4 cup crispy-rice cereal
2 tablespoon unsweetened coconut
1⁄2 cup nut butter, including almond, peanut, or cashew
1⁄4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your equipment and ingredients and put them on a counter.

  1. Line the pan with wax or parchment paper and leave enough hanging so that you can use it to cover the bars later. (You will need a piece a little longer than twice the size of the bottom of the pan.)
  2. Put the nuts, dried fruit, oats, rice cereal, and coconut in the medium-sized bowl and toss well.
  3. Put the nut butter, honey, and oil in the small bowl and microwave until the nut butter is softened, about 30 seconds (depending on your microwave). Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again until smooth.
  4. Pour the nut butter mixture into the medium bowl and mix with the large spoon until well combined.
  5. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and pat down as hard as you can. You want to make the bars solid (rather than airy). Using the overhanging wax paper, cover the bars completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to one week.
  6. Cut into 16 pieces.

To toast nuts: put them on a small baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until they are fragrant and look a shade darker, around 5 minutes