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ChopChop Recipe: Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

ChopChop_fruitsandnutbar_400Let the kids make these easy, no-bake treats, mixing in their favorite dried fruits and nuts. Serve them as a healthy snack or as a homemade addition to the lunchbox. From ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food With Your Family.

These bars are endlessly adaptable and can be made to fit almost any taste. You can replace some of the nuts with seeds: we especially like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame. Just be sure to toast them first to bring out their flavor.

ADULT NEEDED: YES (FOR CUTTING AT THE END) • HANDS-ON TIME: 20 MINUTES • TOTAL TIME: 20 MINUTES • MAKES: 16 BARS

KITCHEN GEAR
8 x 8-inch baking pan
Waxed or parchment paper or aluminum foil
Large bowl
Small bowl
Rubber spatula
Sharp knife (adult needed)

INGREDIENTS
½ cup toasted chopped nuts (one kind or a combination of almonds, walnuts, or pecans)
¾ cup dried fruit (one kind or a combination of raisins, currants, dried cranberries, or chopped dates, plums, apricots, or peaches)
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup crisp rice cereal
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut (if you like)
½ cup almond or peanut butter
¼ cup honey, real maple syrup, or agave syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Line the pan with waxed or parchment paper or aluminum foil and leave enough hanging over the edges so you can cover the bars later. (You will need a little more than twice as much as the bottom of the pan.)
2. Put the nuts, dried fruit, oats, rice cereal, and coconut, if you like, in the large bowl and toss well.
3. Put the almond butter and honey in the small bowl and microwave until the almond butter is softened, about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and stir again until smooth.
4. Pour the almond mixture into the large bowl and mix until well combined.
5. Put the mixture into the prepared pan and pat down as hard as you can. You want to make the bars dense. Using the overhanging waxed paper, cover the bars completely. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
6. Using the knife, cut into 16 bars.

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