I love Kashi’s chewy grain bars; they’re not too sweet, have great texture and, at 140 calories, aren’t too great an indulgence. Half of one satisfies me as a between-meal snack. But they’re expensive. So I tried to recreate them, using the ingredients on the label. I call these “Cash”-y Bars because my hope is to save some cash by making them.

To be honest, these aren’t much like the bars — not as crisp and lacking a shiny slightly sweet glaze the bars have. But they’re delicious and satisfying and, if you, like me, always keep different flours and dried fruits on hand, you can make them up quickly from whatever combination you like.
The coconut is essential; it adds a great deal to the chewy texture and “weight” of the bars (so you feel full). Dried coconut is available in health food stores and keeps well, even unrefrigerated; freeze for long-term storage. Bars made with dried fruit can be stored in airtight container on the counter; those made with fresh fruit should be refrigerated.

“Cash”-y Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran, wheat germ, flax seed, or other grain or seed
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dry unsweetened coconut
1 cup dried Montmerency cherries or dried plums
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup slivered almonds or whole almonds
1 egg white (or equivalent vegan egg replacer such as Ener-G)
1/2 cup water or fruit juice, such as apple
1/2 cup agave syrup (or brown rice syrup or honey)*

Spray a 9-by-13 pan with vegetable oil spray or bakers’ release. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine and whisk together oats, bran, flour, salt, cinnamon and coconut. Mince or process cherries and apricots and add to flours. Add slivered almonds or, if using whole almonds, chop them roughly; add to flours. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white, water and agave. Make a well in the flours and pour in wet ingredients; stir lightly until liquid is absorbed. The batter should be thickish, neither stiff nor sticky. Transfer to prepared pan and press lightly with fingers until even. Bake 20-30 minutes, until golden on top and lightly browned around edges. Cool in pan on rack and cut into bars.

In place of cherries, apricots and almonds:
• 1 cup dried apples, 1/2 cup Craisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, increase cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon or use pumpkin pie spice or 5-Spice.
• 1 cup mincemeat (preferably the dried kind, in boxes; if using wetter, bottled mincemeat, eliminate or reduce water), 1/2 cup chopped pecans. (Store in refrigerator.)
• 1 cup mashed bananas, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, increase cinnamon to 1/2 teaspoon; reduce water to 1/4 cup. (Store in refrigerator.)
1/2 cup dates, prunes or figs, seeded; 1 cup mixed dried fruits, 1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts of your choice.
3/4 cup dried pineapple or well-drained and pressed fresh or canned chopped pineapple, 3/4 cup dried mango, 1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts.
1/2 cup chopped dried apple, 1/2 cup candied citron or orange peel, the zest of 1 orange, 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts.

* To use Splenda, Truvia or stevia, mix the equivalent of 1/4-1/2 cup sugar into dry ingredients; increase water or fruit juice by 1/4 cup. Add additional water or fruit juice a few drops at a time, if needed.