These granola bars are packed with crunchy nuts and chewy dried fruit. They’ll power you through class, after-school activities, and more.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make aluminum foil sling for 8-inch square metal baking pan (click here to learn how to make a foil sling). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
Add walnuts to food processor and lock lid into place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until walnuts are finely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses.
Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help). Use rubber spatula to transfer walnuts to rimmed baking sheet. Add oats and sunflower seeds to baking sheet and use rubber spatula to spread into even layer.
Use oven mitts to remove baking sheet from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking sheet on cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. While oat mixture is cooling, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Combine oil and water in liquid measuring cup. Add apricots, brown sugar, and salt to food processor and lock lid back into place. Turn on processor and process until apricots are very finely ground, about 15 seconds.
With processor running, pour oil mixture through feed tube and process until paste forms, about 1 minute. Stop processor.
Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help). Use rubber spatula to transfer apricot paste to large bowl. Add cooled oat mixture and use rubber spatula to stir until oats are well coated with apricot paste. Add cereal and cranberries and gently stir until evenly combined.
Use rubber spatula to scrape mixture into foil-lined baking pan and spread into even layer. Use bottom of dry measuring cup to press down VERY firmly (especially at edges and corners) until smooth and flat.
Use oven mitts to remove baking pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking pan on cooling rack and let granola bars cool completely in pan, about 2 hours.
Rolled oats (also called old-fashioned or regular oats) are whole oats that have been steamed and then rolled. If these same oats are rolled very thinly, they are called quick oats because they cook, well, more quickly. Instant oats are cooked and then dehydrated, so they don’t need any more cooking, just hot water.