Note: Use any combination of dried fruits you desire, totaling 1 1/2 cups. Adapted from "Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics," by Ina Garten.
• 2 c. old-fashioned (not quick- cooking) oats
• 1 c. sliced almonds
• 1 c. shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
• 1/2 c. toasted wheat germ
• 1/2 c. chopped pitted dates
• 1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
• 1/2 c. dried cranberries
• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1/2 c. honey or other sweetener, such as brown rice syrup
• 1/4 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. instant coffee powder or espresso powder, optional
• 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8- by-8-inch (or 9- by 9-inch) pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, cutting paper to fit so it extends beyond the pan a few inches on two sides. (Two sides of the pan will remain unlined.) Spray surface with cooking spray (or coat with a thin layer of butter).
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, coconut and wheat germ on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in dried fruit.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt and, if using, the coffee powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Pour over the oats and fruit mixture and stir together slowly and thoroughly, taking time to make sure all surfaces are coated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press evenly and firmly (mixture will be quite warm).
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from oven and, using a spatula, press down firmly across the surface of the bars. Let cool completely, at least 2 to 3 hours. Using the paper overhang, lift the bars from the pan and, with a sharp heavy knife, cut in half, then each half again into 6 long bars.
Wrap individually in foil. Granola bars will keep at room temperature for a week.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 270 Fat 11 g
Sodium 56 mg Saturated fat 5 g
Carbohydrates 43 g Calcium 42 mg
Protein 6 g Cholesterol 3 mg
Dietary fiber 5 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ fruit, 1 bread/starch, 1½ other carb, 2 fat.