Oatmeal Fruit-Nut Bars / by Amy Cantu

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Notes: These oatmeal fruit-nut bars are essentially a bowl of oatmeal in a bar form. In other words, they are not really like granola bars. The are soft, not too chewy, and taste like my favorite bowl of nutritious oatmeal, loaded up with dried fruit, seeds or nuts, and touch of maple syrup. Store cooled and cut bars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in a sealed container for up to 4 months. Defrost frozen bars in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

Adapted from Catherine McCord's Weelicious.

Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 18 squares

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk (any kind of milk — rice, almond, soy, cow’s — will work)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup applesauce
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, and cherries)
1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds (I used sunflower seeds and pepitas)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 7 x 11 inch baking dish.

Place the first 5 dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Mix the milk, applesauce, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stir to combine and then stir in the dried fruits and nuts. Pour the oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until thickened and golden. Cool, cut into squares and serve.