As much as I like granola I like it in a bar shape even better. The thing is that with all the different types of bars out there is seems like the ones I like are super expensive and the ones that have the flavors I like are usually unhealthy, I don’t want to eat a granola bar that has 250 calories in it. Usually I make a more basic flavor but I thought it would be fun for fall to add pumpkin. We roasted pie pumpkins, scooped the cooked pumpkin out and pulsed it in the food processer to get a smooth texture. You could use canned pumpkin as well but make sure to get plain pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
I made granola bars for the first time over the summer and they didn’t turn as I had hoped because they were too dry and did not hold together well. I have since learned that knowing the exact amount of moisture needed is very important and knowing when to cut the bars and when to transport them is what makes for a good granola bar. Once you master the technique its about the flavor and nutrition. I like to add as much fiber and as little calories as possible in addition to keeping the sugar content low. If you would prefer to add a sugar substitute instead of the brown sugar that is fine or you can leave it out all together.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a mixing bowl to soften, meanwhile toast the oats on a jelly roll pan for 5-8 minutes. Mix the pumpkin, egg, butter, honey, and brown sugar together. Add the toasted oats, puffy cereal, sunflower seeds, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, flax seed and cinnamon, mix well. Gently fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips until the mixture is well combined, if your granola mixture seems to dry add more applesauce to reach desired consistency. Spread this mixture onto a lightly greased 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan, press down using your hand to make sure that the granola is even and compact. Bake in oven for 45- 55 minutes or until golden brown. While still warm, cut into 5-by-1 1/2-inch bars, for softer bars leave in pan to finish cooling for crisp bars, remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily