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Homemade Power Bars (08.25.11)

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1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened whole-grain puffed cereal
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped golden raisins
¼ cup creamy almond butter
¼ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray
Combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until the oats are lightly toasted and the nuts are fragrant, shaking the pan halfway through, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add cereal, currants, apricots and raisins; toss to combine.

Combine almond butter, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles lightly, 2 to 5 minutes.

Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula until no dry spots remain.  Transfer to the prepared pan.  Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray and press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer (wait until the mixture cools slightly if necessary).  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes; cut into bars

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month; thaw at room temperature.