Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fruit and Chocolate Cereal Bars

It's Spring Break!  Normally, I would be very excited for this little break, but this week I was even more excited because I started my first field practicum for my doctoral program.  I know, nerdy.  But I left my job to finish my degree about 6 months ago now, and I must say that I miss contributing to projects that will be used for something more than just giving me a grade. So, this week instead of sleeping in and being lazy, I have headed off to a local health department, and it has been a great experience!  Well, everything except the 7:30am daily start time. I am definitely  not a morning person...I may or may not have taken a 3+ hour nap today when I got home.  

These fruit and chocolate cereal bars have provided me a quick and easy breakfast for these early mornings when I am usually running out the door.  Not being a morning person, I'm not waking up 10 minutes earlier for breakfast.  So these are something nice to eat in the car or at my desk.  Plus they freeze well, so I can make a big batch and have them for weeks.

Even better?  These cereal bars are NO BAKE!  They come together so quickly, and you get to control the quality of the ingredients that go in--what could be better?  And the combination of the dried fruit, chocolate and almonds is quite frankly just really yummy!  When I make these, I use semisweet chocolate chips, Trader Joe's dried berry medley (contains dried strawberries, blueberries and cherries) and unsalted, dry roasted almonds.  

Hope you enjoy this morning pick-me-up recipe!

Fruit and Chocolate Cereal Bars
Makes 16 Bars
Adapted slightly from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) loosely packed chopped dried fruit
1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds
1/2 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract

Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with Pam.  In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, rice cereal, dried fruit, almonds, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate chips until evenly combined.  Set aside

In a medium saucepan, combine the canola oil, brown rice syrup, brown sugar and vanilla.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  When the mixture starts to boil, cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients.  Mix until everything is easily combined (at this point the hot ingredients will melt the chocolate).  

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Cool the bars in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting.  When the bars are cooled, cut into 16 servings.  Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and freeze together in a freezer bag (these will keep for up to 4 months).  Alternatively, you can store these in the refrigerator for about 10 days.

Sorry Scratch, no chocolate for you!

This post is linked to the Creativity Unleashed link party!

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