Sweet and Salty Granola Bars

OK, I've done it again - I created a bar that I can't keep my hands off of!! But that's OK - because they're virtually guilt-free.

Flavor and texture home run: These amazing bars are sweet/chewy from the chocolate and raisins, and salty/crunchy from the peanuts and pretzels. Plus, the flavor/texture of the oats is the perfect base for the party going on in your mouth. In one bite, every taste and texture sensation you can imagine is experienced. And because I used coconut oil and maple syrup, these bars literally melt in your mouth (they might melt in your hands too - so don't wait too long to indulge!).

Vegan and no bake too! Instead of butter and honey (often found in other granola bar recipes), I used coconut oil and maple syrup. Even if you're not vegan, you will adore these.

Want a gluten-free version? No problem - use gluten-free pretzels!

Make ahead friendly: These bars can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. You can refrigerate them in the baking pan (without cutting), or you can cut them into squares and store the bars in an airtight container. If you want to stack the bars in the container, place pieces of parchment paper between the layers.

Sweet and Salty Granola Bars

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted and still warm
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (if your maple syrup is cold, warm it or bring it to room temperature so it doesn't solidify the coconut oil)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup pretzel pieces
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (for vegan balls, opt for vegan chips)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa, and vanilla. Whisk until blended and smooth. Whisk in the peanut butter.
Fold in the oats, pretzels, raisins, chocolate chips, and flour.
Press the mixture into a 9x13-inch pan that's been lined with parchment paper (this makes getting the bars out easy breezy).
Chill for 30 minutes, until firm. You can also refrigerate the bars for 3 days.
Cut into 24 squares. Refrigerate until ready to serve and store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Makes 24 granola bars