Cereal bars are a quick alternative to a bowl of cereal and are great as take a-long snacks for yourself or your children. For those busy mornings when there simply isn't enough time to sit down and eat, cereal bars provide the nutrition of a bowl of cereal without the bowl. Many store bought cereal bars are packed with sugar, fat and preservatives that may leave you wondering what your kids are really eating. Making them yourself, puts you in control of the ingredients and gives you the freedom to choose healthy options for yourself and your children.
Select a variety of dried fruits, nuts, and cereal that your family prefers. Keep in mind that the more natural the ingredients are, the healthier the final product will be. This recipe is low fat and lower in sugar than most cereal bar recipes because it is sweetened with brown sugar and honey instead of gooey marshmallows and refined white sugar.
Warm the oil, honey, brown sugar, and peanut butter in the microwave to soften. This does not need to be completely melted. You just want it soft enough to blend with the dry ingredients. Be careful not to burn the mixture.
Stir in vanilla or extract of your choice and blend well.
Mix the cereal with the honey and peanut butter mixture and stir to coat all pieces. This recipe calls for 1 cup of rolled oats and 1 cup of dry cereal. The original recipe called for Rice Crispies, but you can substitute a cereal of your choice. Any non-sugared cereal such as Cherrios or Chex will work fine. I do recommend the rolled oats as they are nutritious and provide a chewy texture to the final cereal bar.
Add 3/4 cup of chopped dried fruit. Use raisins, dried cranberries, figs or other dried fruit of your choice. The type of dried fruit you choose depends on the preferences of your family. Feel free to mix more than one if you desire.
Mix in 3 tablespoons of roasted nuts. Sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or roasted peanuts will work well.
Add 1/4 cup of flaked coconut and stir to mix well. Be sure that all the dry ingredients are coated with the peanut butter and honey mixture.
Press the mixture into an 8X8 square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into bars.
Wrap in plastic wrap or store in plastic storage bags for a quick on-the-run snack or to put in lunch boxes for a sweet treat that is packed with wholesome ingredients.
Experiment with dried fruits and nuts to create just the combination your family desires.
This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9 by 13 pan.