The possibilities are endless granola bars from Ameristar Casino

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you have kids headed back to school, or you are just looking for a delicious, yet healthy snack, try making your own granola. In the video above Victoria Swanson, Ameristar Casino's pastry chef, demonstrates just how easy her recipe is to make.

The possibilities are endless granola bars

Old-Fashioned Oats* 2 ½ cups
Nuts, rough chopped** ½ cup
Honey*** ¼ cup
Butter**** ¼ cup
Light Brown Sugar 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Sea Salt, fine grain ¼ tsp
Extra mix-ins (possibilities are endless) ¾ total cups

*You may substitute organic quinoa flakes or crispy rice cereal in equal parts to the oats. You can substitute any ancient grain, but be sure to read the directions on each grain’s package to make sure you have prepared the grain to the point that it can be added to your granola.

**Nuts! Think variations on color and texture, green – pumpkin seeds and pistachios, white - cashews, browns - almonds, peanuts, walnuts

***In place of honey, you can use equal substitutes of coconut nectar, date paste, stevia products, or pure maple syrup

****Looking for a vegan variation? Replace with almond butter, organic peanut butter, coconut or olive oil; or replace up to half of the butter with applesauce or another fruit puree such as pumpkin or sweet potato. Replacing all of the butter with a fruit puree will result in a much softer, cake-like granola bar.

Ideas for extra mix-ins: Crushed pretzels, any dried fruit such as cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apricots, cherries or dates; quinoa, chia seeds, dessert treats such mini coated candies (M & M’s, Reece’s Pieces), unsweetened flake coconut and peanut butter. If adding chocolate pieces or chips – wait until cool to add. You can also add ¼ teaspoon cinnamon or ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice (very tasty if substituting pumpkin puree for butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment or foil. Spray with pan spray.

Combine oats and nuts on a sheet pan and bake 8 - 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Place in large bowl.

Combine honey, butter, and brown sugar in a small saucepot. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Melt completely. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and salt. Pour mixture over the oats and nuts and stir to combine. Add the extras (except any chocolate, save those until cool) and stir to combine. Make sure the mixture gets fully combined and all the oats, nuts and “extras” get coated.
Wait about 10-12 minutes to add any chocolate ingredients so that the mixture cools. Stir to combine.

Place all of the mixture in the prepared pan. Use a spatula to press the mixture into the pan. This is the time to drizzle, or if you really like chocolate – generously spread, melted dark chocolate or dark chocolate mixed with peanut butter over the bar mixture. Chill the granola bars for at least 2 hours. Lift the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment. Cut into desired shapes or sizes.

Keep any leftovers in tightly sealed container. Lasts for 3-5 days.

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