Best Granola Bar Recipe Ever

I've been searching for a delicious granola bar recipe to replace all or some of the processed granola bars we buy, therefore decreasing the GMO, soy and other unnecessary ingredients we consume. I found a winner and whipped it up to find my Mr. liked them more than the store bought ones! 
Here is the thick and chewy granola bar recipe we've been searching for...


Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Yields a pan of the best granola bars you'll ever sink your teeth into

-1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

-1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-1/3 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
-1 2/3 cups old fashioned oats
-1/2 to 2/3 cup coconut sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
-1/3 cup oat flour
-1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
-2 to 3 cups dried fruits, nuts or seeds (this time I used 1 to 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup ground flax seed and 1/4 cup chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a pan in one direction with parchment paper (use 8x8 or 11x7 for thicker bars, 9x13 for standard thickness). 

2. Lightly grease the exposed pan (if the parchment paper doesn't cover it all).
3. In a large bowl, combine vanilla, melted coconut oil and maple syrup. Add peanut butter. 
4. Toss in the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts and combine until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
5. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
6. Bake the bars in preheated for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges. They’ll set completely once cool.
7. After about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
8. Once cool, use a serrated knife (or butcher's knife) to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. 

adapted from this recipe by Smitten Kitchen
To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well. 
Sink your teeth into your delectable handiwork.
optional substitutions...
-coconut oil: non-dairy butter
-peanut butter: any other nut or seed butter
-coconut sugar: white sugar, brown sugar
-oat flour: any gluten-free flour
-This recipe is so universal and forgiving you can play with the ingredients and amounts freely and test out flavors and textures you prefer.

Mangia! Mangia!