Heart-Shaped Granola Bars
Baking Time: 30 minutes
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal, not instant
¼ cup almond butter
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup mixed raisins and cranberries
¼ cup almonds, chopped
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons date paste**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. In small saucepan, combine almond butter, applesauce, almond milk, date paste, cinnamon, cocoa powder, almond and vanilla extract. Heat on low and gently stir until well combined. Remove from heat and set aside. In medium mixing bowl, add almonds, oats, coconut, chopped almonds, raisins and cranberries. Fold in almond butter mixture and stir. Place cookie cutter on parchment paper and spoon batter into cutter, filling halfway. Press down firmly. Gently lift cookie cutter away from granola and press down around inside edges. Reform granola hearts if necessary. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
**Date Paste : Cover 2 cups of dates with cold water and soak for one hour. Remove dates and reserve water. Place dates in blender and process until smooth. Adjust consistency with reserved water if needed. Store date paste in airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
By Jennifer Strohmeyer