By Shannon Sarna

(The Nosher via JTA) — I had not even heard of Tu b’Shvat until college, when I attended a seder celebrating the holiday. And while it may sound a bit crunchy to celebrate a holiday for the trees, nuts and fruit, it comes at a time in our lives as modern Jews when appreciating our natural resources and the environment is more important than ever.

You can host a full-on seder, or also just take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge our relationship to the land. You can even make a batch of fruit-filled sangria, though my daughter and I decided to try our hand this year at chewy granola bars packed with dried fruit and almonds in honor of Tu b’Shvat. We chose to use a combination of dried cherries, blueberries and raisins, though you could use any combo of dried fruit that you like. Enjoy!

HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS FOR TU B’SHVAT
Ingredients:
2 cups oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground flax seed
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mixed dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 square pan.

Spread the oats and sunflower seeds out on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring 1-2 times.

Meanwhile, heat butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat until brown sugar has completely melted.

Once the oats and sunflower seeds are done toasting, remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Place oats, sunflower seeds, flax seed, cinnamon, salt, almonds and dried fruit into a large bowl. Add melted butter-sugar mixture and combine until completely coated.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and spread out evenly using an offset spatula. This step is important to ensuring even granola bars.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.