Healthy homemade granola bars made with natural sweeteners, oats, nuts, and a little bit of chocolate for good measure!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large tray with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Add the oats to the pan. Coarsely chop the cashews and almonds and add to the pan.
Bake for 4 minutes, stir around and bake for another 3-4 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove and allow to slightly cool.
Meanwhile, add the honey, butter, coconut sugar (or brown sugar), and salt to a medium sized saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove immediately from the heat (do not simmer or boil at all!)
In a large bowl, combine the oat and nut mixture and the honey mixture along with the vanilla extract. If desired, stir in the toasted coconut flakes here.
Let cool for a few minutes and then stir in 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips. They get a little melted and that's intentional to hold the bars together well.
Line a 9 x 9 pan with tin foil with overhang on each side to make for easy removal of the bars.
Transfer the mixture into the pan and compress the bars using a rubber spatula. Press them very firmly down (this is important to avoid crumbling). Once the mixture is very firm and evenly pressed down, add the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and press those gently to adhere to the top of the bars.
Cover the bars and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 before cutting.
Using the foil overhang, pull out the bars and allow them to come to room temperature (easier to cut). Then slice into 12 evenly sized bars.
Store the bars in an airtight container. (Fridge for firmer bars and room temperature for softer bars).
These bars are best enjoyed within 7 days.