Fruit and Nut Chewy Oat Bars

Oats are definitely a staple in my diet. Overnight oats, homemade granola, steaming bowls of porridge, bircher muesli, baked goods made with oat flour, you name it. There's one more main thing we can't forget - granola bars. I love 'em. Especially hearty, wholesome and delicious ones chock full of dried fruits, nuts and other goodness.
The great thing about making granola bars at home is that you know exactly what's going into them - you can customise the add-ins completely, you can control the amount of added sugar and oil, you can make them as chewy or crunchy as you'd like.

Not sure I need to go into the reasons I love granola bars, but to name a few: they're super portable, last pretty long, durable, filled with lots of your favorite things, hearty and deeelish.

These are great to make in a large batch, wrap individually and grab whenever the need arises or craving hits. These ones are particularly great because most of the sweetness comes from natural sources like dates, dried cranberries and unsweetened applesauce. These bars are coincidentally oil-free (I like my healthy fats, by the way!) and when baked, come out wonderfully crusty on the outside but almost soft and chewy on the inside. The chunks of dates, cranberries, pistachio and almonds add a great texture element to these wonderful bars!

1 cup whole rolled oats
1 cup baby porridge oats
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with baking paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 175 C.

In small bowl, stir together applesauce, honey, cinnamon and salt.

In a food processor, pulse the rolled oats, dried dates and cranberries until they reach an even, chunky consistency. You don't want this to turn into a paste. A crumbly mixture is perfect.

Place the pulsed mixture into a large bowl and add the cup of porridge oats, chopped almonds and pistachios. Pour the wet mixture on top and mix everything together.

Add the oat bar mixture to the prepared pan and bake for around 25 minutes until crusty and top is golden brown.

Let the bars cool in the pan for 10 minutes, slice into bars and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Grab one when you're rushing out of the house, keep a stash in your drawer at work, pack them for a picnic. Just enjoy!

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