1 1/2cupsquick oats or rolled oats*(do not use instant oatmeal)
1/4cupwheat germor additional 2 tablespoons oats
3/4teaspoonground cinnamonor try 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4cupsmix-ins of choice**dried cranberries or raisins, roughly chopped toasted nuts, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, etc.
Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper so that two sides overhang like handles.
In a small saucepan, heat the peanut butter and honey, whisking until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Let cool for several minutes (especially if you are using chocolate chips, which will melt if the mixture is too warm).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oats, flaxseed, wheat germ, cinnamon, and salt. Roughly chop any mix-ins that are larger than a chickpea (you can also roughly chop them in a food processor), then stir into the oat mixture.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon or very sturdy spatula, stir to combine. The mixture will be very thick and a little tough to stir, but keep working patiently and you will get there. Once combined, the mixture should feel somewhat sticky, but not liquidy and should easily hold together when pressed. If it seems too sticky (this can vary based on your nut butter), add more oats. If it’s dry, drizzle in a bit more honey.
Press the mixture into the pan very firmly so that the bars stick together (to help, use the back of a large measuring cup or just got at it with your fingers). Refrigerate the no bake granola bars for 1 hour, to allow the bars to set.
Using the paper “handles,” lift the bars out of the pan onto a cutting board (if they are sticking to the pan at the edges, use a knife to loosen). Slice into bars of desired size (I do 1 row of 4 and 1 row of 3 for 12 bars total).
TO STORE: Keep bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. Be sure to separate with layers of parchment paper or wax paper or they will stick together. You can also keep the bars, wrapped individually, at room temperature for a few days, though their texture will soften.
TO FREEZE: Individually wrap and freeze for several months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
*INGREDIENT NOTE: We prefer these bars with quick oats, as they are a little more tender (rolled oats are thicker and have more "chew.") For a finer texture, you can blitz rolled oats in the food processor a few times to break them down further.
**MY FAVORITE MIX-IN COMBO: 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 chopped dried cherries or raisins, 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, 1/4 cup chopped pecans or almonds, and either 1/4 cup sunflower seeds or additional nuts.