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Healthy Granola Bars Recipe

September 02, 2011

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Healthy Granola Bar

Has school started in your neck of the woods?  We’re back at it this week.  I get a little bummed when the kids go back to school.  I’ve really enjoyed spending more time with them and summer is so much less stressful, especially for my high schooler.  That and, despite what you might think, I don’t love making lunches at 6:30 am everyday, as well as trying to keep a substantial supply of well-balanced snacks for the kids and their friends.  You know I love to cook and it’s a major priority for me to feed myself and the kids well, but it’s definitely a challenging task which I know many of you try to tackle most days, too.

The fact is I don’t actually make all of the kids’ snacks, because I really don’t have that kind of time.   But there are a few that I can make quickly, easily and that are more delicious (and healthful) than what you can buy in a store.  I hope to post my guidelines next week for choosing a healthful snack, but making sure there’s some protein in there is super important, otherwise you run the risk of a blood sugar rollercoaster.  One snack that I guessed wouldn’t be too tricky to figure out was granola bars.  Last summer I tested granola bar recipes for about two months and had the tight jeans to prove it.  I wouldn’t call it a low-calorie snack mostly due to the nuts and seeds, but I if the kids need something to tide them over until dinnertime or get them through soccer practice, goldfish and a fruit roll-up aren’t going to cut it.  I am always going to look for something like these bars, which are made from real ingredients, contain protein and fiber and a minimal amount of sugar, plus a little love from Mom.

The problem is that these granola bars are so good, I have a hard time being in the house and not sneaking one or more when I’m not really even hungry.  They have most of the same flavors as my granola, but with a little butter.  What they don’t have is tons of refined sugar like so many granola bar recipes I see.  If you are dairy-free or vegan, you can definitely use coconut oil, but I have a soft spot for the combination of butter, pecans and a pinch of sea salt.  Yum!  Like granola, you can adjust this recipe to suit you.  (And yes, you can add chocolate chips.)  I like my granola bars a little on the thick side (see bottom photo), but if you like yours thinner and crunchy (see lead photo), you can use an 8 x 10 pan.  Try these out and if your family loves them, make a double batch and freeze them.  Because in my world, September not only means school, but soccer games, scouts meetings, study groups and playdates.  Need any more reasons to make these?

granola bars

makes 8-12 bars, depending how you slice ‘em

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

¼ cup raw sunflower seeds

¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds

¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

½ cup chopped raw nuts (pecans or almonds are good)

¼ cup ground almond meal

1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup unsulphured dried fruit (such as chopped apricots, cranberries, cherries, blueberries)

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (my preference) or melted coconut oil

½ cup brown rice syrup (or honey)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If you like thick granola bars, grease an 8 or 9-inch square pan with butter or coconut oil and line with unbleached parchment paper (this will help get the bars out of the pan.)  If you like them thinner, say 3/4-inch thick, grease an 8x 11-inch pan.
  3. Place oats, seeds, coconut and nuts on large baking sheet and toast for 12-15 minutes.  Do not allow anything to burn!
  4. In a large bowl combine almond meal, cinnamon, salt and dried fruit.  When oat mixture is out of the oven, add to bowl.  Mix the melted butter, brown rice syrup and vanilla together and pour over the oat mixture, stirring well to coat evenly.
  5. Pour mixture into pan and press down with a spoon, spatula or damp hands.
  6. Bake for about 20-25* minutes, or until lightly colored on top.  The granola bar will be soft to the touch when it comes out of the oven, but will firm up as it cools.  Allow to cool completely, at least 2 hours.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the bar.  Invert the pan over a cutting board to remove.  Cut into individual bars and eat or store in a covered container.**

*Baking it longer will result in a crispier, firmer bar, but it may be harder for little ones to chew easily.

**If the weather or your kitchen is warm, it’s better to store the bars in the refrigerator.

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48 Responses to “Healthy Granola Bars Recipe”

  1. Maria says:

    When would you add the chocolate chips?

  2. Jenny says:

    Do you soak the raw nuts? I keep reading about it, but I don’t unless I am milking almond milk…tips please :)

  3. Pia says:

    Hi these look fabulous…. what chocolate chips do you recommend at the store(brand). thank you.

  4. Wibbly says:

    Made them with fresh dates , green apple, sesame seeds, almonds and coconut.. Super YUM!

  5. Sarah Kolacki says:

    Could you or did you soak the oats for this recipe? I read a previous post about this and am a bit confused. Thanks!

    • Pamela says:

      Soaking oats (or any grain for that matter) is a great thing to do to aid in the digestibility of the grain and maximize absorption of nutrients. I soak my oats before cooking them as a hot porridge (oatmeal), but I don’t soak them before using them in granola bars because they’ll be too mushy to use. Hope that makes sense!

  6. Lydia says:

    Yum these are so good and I just used some mixed nuts and cranberries and raisins! Amazing and then drizzle chocolate over! Mmmm thanks

  7. Karina says:

    These look great, but my children cannot have dried fruit due to food intolerances. Do you think the mixture would remain ‘un-crumbly’ as well as sweet enough if I remove the dried fruit?

    • Pamela says:

      I haven’t made them without the dried fruit, but I imagine you could add another teaspoon of sweetener and a few extra nuts or seeds and they would turn out great. Let me know if you do!

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  9. Marli says:

    I love making these granola bars, the fragrance that comes out of the oven when the coconut, granola & seeds are baking is wonderful . Very easy recipe.I use dry raspberries and crandberries and add chocolate chunks its DELICIOSO !!! :) Thank u for another excellent & healthy recipe .

  10. Ann says:

    These look and sound delicious but is there a way to make them for kids that are allergic to nuts?

    • Pamela says:

      Ann, I would sub wheat germ or ground flax for the almond meal and then just use more of the other ingredients to make up for the quantity of nuts. Should be delicious!

  11. Stephanie says:

    Hi Pamela – These are delicious! I seem to have made more of a granola than a granola bar though – do I need to squeeze them into the pan more, or perhaps the honey I used doesn’t stick as well as the brown rice syrup?

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how to get my little two to eat these (the older ones loved them!) I’m sure chocolate chips would help but would love something healthier – are carob chips a better nutritional option?

    - Stephanie

    • Pamela says:

      Hi Stephanie! I haven’t had an issue with the granola bars not sticking, but I haven’t tried every brand of honey, so that’s a possibility. I do press the mixture into the pan pretty firmly. I buy the mini- chocolate chips, so a few of those are no big deal. But you can go with carob if you think your kids will go for them. Or just ask them to pick their favorite dried fruits. Last idea, it looks like another reader drizzled melted chocolate on top. You really wouldn’t need much!

  12. Jessica says:

    Has anyone tried making granola bites with this recipe? I find bites easier for little fingers when we are on the go…but the other recipes I have tried always crumble on me just like the bars.

    • Pamela says:

      I would imagine you could just cut these a bit smaller, no? They definitely won’t crumble.

      • Jessica says:

        Hi there! A whole year later and I am finally commenting again…lol! Wanted to tell you that I have been baking these using mini-muffin pans and they come out perfect…can’t even count how many batches now :) I use this as a base recipe for all sorts of variations (even pumpkin spice) and they are always a yummy treat. THANK YOU!

        • Pamela says:

          Nice to hear from you again, Jessica! I love using mini-muffins pans for lots of things, but I haven’t tried them with the granola bars. Thanks for the great suggestion!

  13. Kamala says:

    These were a big hit with my family….delicious!!! I made mine with dried cherries…yummy!

    • Pamela says:

      Love dried cherries! I was happy to have found some unsulphured and unsweetened at Trader Joe’s, although not organic :( .

  14. marcie says:

    I too love these, but wanted to make them with less Brown Rice Syrup so that there is even less sugar. Any suggestions for eliminating some of the syrup and still getting them to hold together? When I reduced the syrup to about 1/3 of a cup some of the bars held together and some parts crumbled (which allowed me to have granola for sprinkling on my yogurt!).

    Also, what do you think of the Silpat? Do you think it is safe?

    • Pamela says:

      Well, I’m all for using less sweetener, but I haven’t tried the recipe with less. I’m thinking that adding a little nut butter in place of less brown rice syrup might keep it all together, but I’m guessing here.

      I think Silpat is fine. Silicone doesn’t leach, is easy to clean and doesn’t hold onto odors, although I probably wouldn’t bake fish on it. I don’t know why I rarely use mine!

  15. Kim says:

    why do you grease pan and use parchment paper? normally i would do one or the other. thanks!

    • Pamela says:

      Definitely use the parchment — it makes taking the bars out so much easier and clean-up is a breeze, plus the bars a little sticky and they won’t stick at all to parchment. If you grease the pan before putting the parchment down, the parchment won’t slide around at all.

  16. Kim says:

    these were incredible! i made some with chocolate drizzled on top but my son preferred the ones without. his entire soccer team loved them. i did not have unbleached parchment paper — what is the difference? thanks!

    • Pamela says:

      Most parchment paper is bleached with chlorine and doing so creates dioxin, a super toxic substance. The dioxin can leach into your food and it ain’t good for the environment either. Sometimes you can find a paper product that has been bleached without chlorine, but I just stay away from bleached products altogether. Whole Foods carries at least two brands of unbleached parchment paper. Glad the kids like the granola bars!

  17. Kirby says:

    These are my FAVORTIE! Better than any store bought granola bars and fun and easy to make. The only problem is that I want to eat them all up myself!

  18. Cindy says:

    A huge hit for my family. I actually made 2 batches, 1 uncooked for granola (yogurt topping or just plain) and another batch cooked. I did 20 min. in the oven and loved the texture. I personally could eat the entire pan uncooked!

  19. lisa says:

    I added one fourth cup rice crispies and really helped my son like these as it became more like the regular texture he was used to. This is a regular treat in our house as this is one of the few ways that I can get protein in my picky eater. Thanks Pamela!!!

  20. Stacey says:

    I made these over the weekend and they were delicious, not to mention super easy to make. Brought them on a mountain bike ride and they were the hit of the ride!

  21. Mia says:

    Love your granola bars! Not only are they delicious, but you are definitely right … they do not crumble, and the texture is perfect. Many thanks for a great snack!

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks, Mia. Unfortunately, I had 2 after my morning workout today. Need to make more tonight for kids’ snacks this week!

  22. Bonnie says:

    I need to make a nut-free version for school lunch boxes. Any suggestions for replacing nuts and almond meal?

    • Pamela says:

      Yes, I should have given substitutions since there are so many nut-free schools. I think you can replace the almond meal with either wheat germ or ground flax meal. As far as the nuts, I would just increase the amount of dried fruit and seeds to make up for taking out the nuts.

  23. Staci says:

    i haven’t been able to make granola bars that don’t fall apart. These look like they hold together perfect.

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