OK, I admit it, I have food prejudices - and some of them I am perfectly happy to maintain. Food colourings rank very high, as do highly processed foods, some foods from certain countries of origin and excessively packaged foods - especially for home consumption.
We have three healthy and growing children, and I am aware of how much recycling, garbage and compost we produce though I think that we are really quite good. Many schools ask that parents pack lunches in reusable containers and everything is "boomeranged" - ie sent back home - whether it is consumed or not. Great idea, parents can actually see what it is that junior is or is not eating, and all garbage and waste is put into the home's system and not the school's. I used to buy (gasp) packaged granola bars before I got this recipe, it is from a local caterer where I have worked - however I have tweaked it, as I often do, and reduced the amount of chocolate. Yes, there is such a thing as too much chocolate, this variation gives just the right hit without turning the bars into a confection. We do not have nut allergies in our family, and I can only imagine how scary it would be to have a child who has to be on the lookout at all times. I never put nuts into granola bars that I prepare for the kids' school lunches - but we enjoy them in our weekend version.
Pantry Purge Granola Bars
2/3 cup butter
4 1/2 cups cereal (oatmeal, dregs of tired cereal in boxes)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey, brown rice syrup, or other liquid sweetener of your choice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups of items of interest*: raisins, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, coconut, flax seeds, chopped dried apricot, etc... (stuff hanging in your pantry in other words)
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x13" pan or two 8x8" pans with parchment paper.
Mix all ingredients into kitchen mixer, and using the paddle attachment, mix until well combined. Place mixture into prepared pans, press down and into corners. Bake 18 - 22 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Let cool before cutting.