Granola bars you can buy at the store are just horrid, even the name brand ones. They're tiny, they're dry, they're brittle, they taste like cardboard, and they usually have milk in them. If they're the only granola bars you've ever known, it's little wonder you hate them.
Nobody can get enough of these granola bars, though. I make them "man sized" and my husband and his friend take them out on hunting trips. They are filling and give loads of energy, like a granola bar should. And they keep pretty well, provided that you can prevent them from being eaten. Usually around our house they're gone into tummies within 48 hours of making them, but occasionally I'll find one that got stuffed in the back of the pantry; a few weeks later it's still edible. You can freeze them for longer-term storage, though I'd recommend installing a freezer lock before you do. We've had at least one "freezer thaw" due to kids sneaking into the freezer to get granola bars out behind Mom's back and leaving the door open behind them.
I make mine with flax seed to get some Omega-whatsit oils into my family. If you don't like flax seed or wheat germ, just put in more oats instead.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rectangular pan with wax paper and spray it with cooking spray (or grease it). It has to be seriously slick. I use a 10x13 pan for a double batch (double the amounts I'm about to give you). These are really tasty so I recommend making a minimum of a double batch at a time.
Mix together in a large bowl:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or milled flax seed
1 cup raw or roasted sunflower seeds or other nuts (chopped if you use nuts; sunflower seeds can be whole)
Transfer the grain/nut/seed mixture to a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
While mixture is toasting, on the stove top put the following in a saucepan:
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. honey
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine or peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
heat to a boil and simmer.
When grain/nut/seed mixture is done toasting, return it to the large bowl. Add
5 to 8 oz. dried fruit of your choice*
and the simmering sugar/fat mixture.
Working quickly before it cools, mix thoroughly and press into prepared pan. Cover with another sheet of wax paper to press. When semi-cool (sticking together but still flexible), remove the top wax paper, invert the sheet of granola bars onto a cutting board, and remove bottom wax paper. When thoroughly cool, cut into bar shapes with a knife. Wrap any bars that are not instantaneously consumed in plastic wrap. Wrapped bars can be placed in a plastic bag and frozen.
* Use your favorite fruit or a combination of fruits. You can combine dried pineapple and coconut, dried cranberries and raisins, etc.