Get Ready Granola Bars!

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        I’m in high gear preparation-mode these days. Lee and I are finally in our (probable) last U.S. port before we head east to the Bahamas! I say probable because we may decide to push south to Miami before crossing the gulf stream. For now, we’re anchored off of Riviera Beach, FL. I can’t get enough of the warm weather and sunshine but there is so much work to do!
        There are provisions to buy. I hear vegetables are scarce in the Bahamas so I have some serious stocking up to do. Various wedding related errands need running and our list of necessary boat supplies is long.
        I knew the next few days would be busy to say the least, so I made time for baking this afternoon. Not only did I get to check that activity off my list (for now), I also ended up with super snacks to fuel the craziness.
        I wanted to make granola bars that were on the crunchy side, naturally sweetened, and contained my favorite spice: cardamom. I think it was a crunchy granola bar recipe and my beloved Spicy Oatmeal Cookies from How It All Vegan that got me hooked on cardamom. It’s the perfect spice for not-so-sweet sweets. It catches you off guard on your first bite and keeps you coming back to figure out what’s going on in your mouth!
        These granola bars came together in my head this morning. I didn’t get a chance to make them until we got back from lugging 3 jugs each of anti-freeze and oil down the street. Ingredients flew into a pot, onto a baking sheet, and into the oven. The smell of coconut and cardamom made it difficult to resist pulling these out early and digging in.
        I think I succeeded with a certain amount of crunchiness and the perfect spice but my granola bars are probably not sweet enough for most people. Dried figs provide the only sweetness and I was happy with that. However, I would suggest adding some honey if you want more satisfaction in the sweet department. More dried fruit or a different kind (like dates) would also help. I think that’s what I’ll try next time.

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Granola Bars #1 (I anticipate making many more)

A handful of dried figs, chopped (about 3/4 cup when chopped)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
2 cups oats
2 scoops (1/4 cup) vanilla soy protein powder (or your protein powder of choice; dried milk would work too)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash of cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine chopped figs and water in a medium saucepan over med-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, partially covered, until the water had reduced to a syrup and the fruit hunks are soft and breaking down. Remove from heat.
Add coconut oil to the saucepan and stir until it melts.
In a separate bowl, mix oats, spices, protein powder, and flax.
Add the oat mixture to the saucepan along with the beaten egg.
Mix ingredients with a fork until they are completely blended.
Pour the mixture into a square baking pan or a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil. Press until flat and even. I made an irregular square-like shape on a baking sheet. Cut outlines of bars and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (longer for more crunch).
After baking, remove bars from pan and cool on a wire rack.

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