2 cups of pitted dates, pulsed into a paste (will equal 1 cup)
½ cup water
1/2 cup of natural peanut butter or nut butter of your choice
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp of flaxseeds
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of salt
1 oz of raw almonds, divided
1 oz dried cranberries, divided
Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray leaving an overhang over the pan so you will be able to remove the bars easily.
Add dates and water to a blender and blend until a paste forms.
Add the date paste to a medium pot on medium low heat, add date paste and heat for about 3-5 minutes, until the paste becomes very soft.
Once the date paste is smooth and softened, add peanut butter. Stir constantly to combine and shut off the heat once the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are evenly incorporated (about 1 minute).
Stir in the vanilla extract then, ground cinnamon, and salt and combine. Then, fold in the shredded coconut, rolled oats and flaxseeds.
Fold in half of the almonds and cranberries until combined.
Pour the granola mixture into the prepared pan.
Spread evenly and press down firmly using a flat spatula. Sprinkle remaining almonds and dried cranberries evenly and press down firmly again with spatula or your hands to flatten and bind.
Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight to set.
Remove from the fridge and use the parchment overhang to transfer the uncut bars to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into even rectangles.
Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you have to stack them, make sure to use parchment paper in between the layers, otherwise they'll stick together. These bars are best enjoyed straight out of the fridge since they tend to soften up at room temperature.
Note: the bars will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or store in freezer for up to 1 month.