Vanilla Cranberry Bars

Cranberry-Vanilla Bars
Cranberry-Vanilla Bars

Ever find yourself attempting to distract “yourself” from digestively clearing out the refrigerator around 4pm?

That’s my munch time.  I don’t know why.  I normally eat lunch around 12:30 or 1pm.  But, a few hours later, my stomach thinks it’s go time.  So – instead of resorting to the ever-easy chips and salsa (or chips and guacamole or… chips), I reasoned with myself that it would be worthwhile to make something pretty.  Something healthy.  Something…. sweet.

Oh yes, dear friends – THAT code was cracked.  And immediately, my stomach leapt for gratefulness and anticipation all at once.

So, I pulled out a recipe that I’ve had in the back burner of my mind for a while.  (Thanks, Gaby!)

…One that looked simple enough.  Super pretty.  And – fancy enough for a tea party (think: Meryl Streep meets Mr. Bean).

And then it happened.  That “Thought” happened.

It should just take a few minutes.  I’ll whip these suckers together, let them “meld” for an hour – and – voilá: semi-instant snack.  

I can wait THAT long; no problem.

Ah, that ever-taunting kitchen epiphany.  It’s mean and it lies.

Cranberry-Vanilla Bars
Cranberry-Vanilla Bars: Simple. Easy.

In some ways, though – it COULD have been correct.  Had I not replaced the instant oats for the rolled kind.  Had I wanted crumbly-goodness instead of bar form.  Had I not turned on the oven.  Had I read the directions… the bar was already perfect before I toyed with it…

Cranberry-Vanilla Bars
Cranberry-Vanilla Bars

It could have happened.

Albeit the long wait (prepared yesterday – ate today); I survived on the great splendor of a good glass of wine and the fact that these bars smelled SO GOOD.  It’s worth the wait; trust me.

Cranberry-Vanilla Bars
Cranberry-Vanilla Bars

Cranberry-Vanilla Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
2 Tablespoons shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/4 cup raw almonds – ground (in attempting to disturb a family member, I used a mortar and pestle for this task instead of a noisy blender – it worked well)
6 Tablespoons honey (melted – if it’s raw and completely unprocessed)
3 and 1/2 Tablespoons oil (I used coconut oil)
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine: oats, cranberries, coconut, and almonds.  In a small bowl, combine: honey, oil, and vanilla – microwave to melt slightly so that it can be evenly dispersed.  Stir the mixture in the small bowl into that of the one in the large bowl until everything is coated and mixed well.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Dump mixture onto parchment paper – and – WITH WET HANDS, press “dough” firmly down until compacted.  Until it can no longer be pressed down.  Bake for 15 minutes (or until lightly golden on top).  Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and cut into bars – as big or as small as you like.

Makes: 5 large-ish bars (about the length of a Nature Valley granola bar – but thicker) or 10 smaller-sized bars.  Or 6, 8, 20…  (and to insert a random Arnold Schwarzenegger that he may or may not have said – “You have da pow-A.”)

Bar-Alternates: the gym, a restaurant… just kidding.  If you don’t have (or don’t like!) cranberries OR – are trying to go Gluten Free or possibly Paleo – try these instead:

Gingerbread Energy Bars
Gingerbread Energy Bars
Apricot Kissed Protein Bars
Apricot Kissed Protein Bars
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