Better Than Store-Bought: Granola Bars

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By: , – Bryn Mooth
8/9/2012 2:00 PM   :  42 comments   :  42,845 Views

Editor's Note: This is a new series about how to re-create some of your favorite healthy foods at home.

Granola bars are a healthy on-the-go snack, but some packaged versions contain high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and sweet ingredients that negate some of that nutritional benefit. This homemade granola bar recipe includes whole grains, natural sweeteners, healthy nuts and dried fruit, with protein and fiber to keep you going. Even better: The recipe is super adaptable. You can adjust the amount of brown sugar to suit your taste, and add any combination of dried fruit you like, or omit the fruit. Neither rock-hard nor super soft, this crunchy-chewy granola bar lives up to its good-for-you reputation.
 
Homemade Granola Bars
(makes 16 bars)
 
3 tablespoons natural nut butter (almond, peanut, soy or sunflower)
3 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons agave nectar (light or dark)
1 to 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups puffed wheat, rice or kamut
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup Grape Nuts
1/2 cup whole almonds, very coarsely chopped
1/4 cup whole flaxseed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried fruit (see Note)
 
Note: Use any of the following dried fruits or a combination—apples, apricots, blueberries, cherries, craisins, cranberries, raisins.
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, so that the paper overhangs on opposite sides (to make removing the bars easy).
 
In a small saucepan, combine nut butter, honey, agave nectar, brown sugar and vanilla. Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the brown sugar dissolves and the nut butter is incorporated smoothly into the mixture.
 
In a large bowl, combine puffed wheat (or rice or kamut), oats, Grape Nuts, chopped almonds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Pour 1/2 of the warm honey mixture over the oat mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine. Pour the remaining honey mixture over the oat mixture and continue stirring with the spatula until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and use the spatula to press the mixture firmly.
 
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the granola bars are golden brown all over. Remove the pan from the oven and again use the rubber spatula to press down on the mixture. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, then use the overhanging parchment paper to lift them out of the pan. On a cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut 16 squares. Wrap and keep air-tight for a week. Granola bars can also be wrapped and stored in a plastic bag in the freezer for several months.
 
Servings Per Recipe: 16
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 160.2
Fat: 6.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 32.1 mg
Carbs: 29.2 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Protein: 4.3 g
 
 
Click here to see the recipe on SparkRecipes!
 
Feel free to customize these: Use peanut butter and peanuts, sprinkle in cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, omit the dried fruit, or swap in almond extract.
 
Do you prefer granola bars to be chewy or crunchy?
 
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Like this blog? Then you'll love "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight."
 
Bryn Mooth is extending her 20-year career in publishing as an independent journalist and copywriter. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.


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Comments

  • DEW1960
    42
    Yum! :) - 7/11/2014   8:15:34 AM
  • CRISTIN24
    41
    Any suggestions for a Grape Nuts substitution? I live in Belgium and, sadly, Grape Nuts are no where to be found. - 6/23/2014   4:25:16 AM
  • SNACKETTE67
    40
    OMG! Those granola bars look absolutly yummy, and I can't wait to make them. I'll be sure to let everyone know how they turnout after I do... - 9/11/2012   9:00:14 PM
  • 39
    I can get Agave syrup in the big Tesco's here in the UK, but, it costs a fortune! Any alternative? I guess golden syrup isn't a healthy option. More honey instead? Also, I don't think I've seen any other kind of nut butter than peanut here, which I'm not mad about the smell of, but it might be okay in cooking I s'pose. I imagine I'd need to work out the calories of any substitutions. - 8/27/2012   1:20:10 PM
  • 38
    These sound very yummy...I like a variety which this recipe makes it easily to do...some peanut buttery and dark chocolate some fruity and some with grains and honey, I also like a variety of consistencies chewy to crispy to crunchy. I like to dip them in my yogurt. I would probably opt to use honey because I have it on hand but would like to try it with the nectar....also once u buy the ingred. U have them on hand for the next time which can be a cost saver itself cuz u don't use all of it... - 8/24/2012   7:27:55 PM
  • 37
    These are awesome. We are preparing for a 2 week road trip and my husband is a muncher. So I was looking for healthy alternatives to donuts, candy and chips. I made these. These will definitely be something he will enjoy and so will I. I will feel so much better that we both have a healthier choice while driving the roads through the midwest! - 8/15/2012   11:40:20 AM
  • 36
    I love granola bars! They are a quick and easy snack! But this recipe is way too much work. I developed one after looking at a ton of recipes. It's on SparkRecipes as "S'mores Inspired Granola Bars." It's close in calorie range but trust me having a small bit of these will keep you full! They are the perfect 2 PM work snack! If anyone has better or can alter it for less calories (without taking out the chocolate of course) please let me know! :D - 8/12/2012   10:22:47 PM
  • GRAMMILLIE
    35
    would never make these unless I was underweight. I am amazed anyone would do a receipe with so high a calorie count. Sorry, you get an F for this. - 8/12/2012   1:30:06 PM
  • 34
    They look yummy, but cheaper? Don't think so, especially if I have to go out and buy agave nectar. I think I'll skip that as there is already honey and brown sugar in the recipe. - 8/12/2012   8:37:01 AM
  • SASTA88
    33
    These are 70 calories more than the ones I buy at the store... and 3 different sweeteners??? Not sure about these... - 8/11/2012   11:40:34 AM
  • CHICA_BORICUA
    32
    go to pinterest and get more healthier recipes. - 8/11/2012   9:40:20 AM
  • 31
    Oh, yummy!!! - 8/10/2012   3:31:00 PM
  • 30
    Too calorie ridden for me . . . but they sound really good. ?? Maybe when I get to Maintenance??
    Seems as though since the recipe already calls for honey that it would be simple just to substitute more honey for the agave -- IMHO . . . - 8/10/2012   2:39:24 PM
  • 29
    I have never been a fan of granola. However, I think I will give this a try. It sounds delicious! - 8/10/2012   12:56:59 PM
  • SBALAS1
    28
    The recipe looks tasty but 1/16th of an 8" x 8" pan (I've never seen a 9" x 9" pan) is more of a nugget than a bar...will try and hopefully they are filling for their size : ) - 8/10/2012   12:56:46 PM
  • LISIEPOOH
    27
    Thanks, these look great. I make my own protein bars but these look a whole lot easier!

    "Fattening grains"? I just don't get that comment! I try to eat oatmeal every day. "Just buy the cheap generic"? Have you READ the labels of some of those? I'd rather make my own (or these!) and know exactly what's going into them. Also, they are "Granola" bars, not protein bars. I haven't tried this yet, as it just came into my inbox, but I am thinking you could add some protein powder if you wanted, although you'd probably have to add some moisture such as applesauce, if you're up for some kitchen science lab. I think people have misconceptions about how much protein we actually need. Also, I'm in agreement about the agave; I am thinking the recipe might need a little honey in order to stick together, though. - 8/10/2012   12:48:42 PM
  • BCAPEC
    26
    Lots of conflicting reports about agave nectar, I guess you should just try to limit your intake of sweet stuff, use just enough to make them tasty. I would have liked to see more protein ingredients. - 8/10/2012   11:42:00 AM
  • 25
    I buy a lot of granola bars as snacks for my 4 kids and the kids in the daycare I run from my home. I already have all these ingrediants on hand...can't wait to try them and save money to boot!
    - 8/10/2012   11:38:51 AM
  • 24
    So tired of people using agave nectar in recipes thinking that it is any better for you than honey or even corn syrup. - 8/10/2012   11:06:47 AM
  • CSCESMITH
    23
    Thanks so much! I have been looking for a healthier granola bar recipe that my kids will actually eat! This made my day!

    My son just said "Mom, I know what we're going to do this weekend!" Big smile from him, too! - 8/10/2012   11:03:38 AM
  • 22
    CHICCHANTAL -- 1) Honey? 2) Why not? 3) Make and freeze them... Or Make and take to work and hand them out!! :) - 8/10/2012   10:34:47 AM
  • 21
    Sound like a lot of work, buying all the ingredients, mixing, cooking, baking and wrapping them for such a little "taste" of granola. If you have the ingredients on hand, fine, but if you have to go searching for them, seems like the on-sale or generic would be a more time and cost effective option. - 8/10/2012   10:23:15 AM
  • MARILAZA
    20
    We dont have agave nectar where I live (hell, there's loads that we dont have), what can I substitute it with - 8/10/2012   9:58:59 AM
  • 19
    agave nectar is terrible for you.

    Its concentrated fructose and goes strait to your bloodstream. Normal refined sugar affects you SLOWER even!!!! - 8/10/2012   9:30:55 AM
  • 18
    In the UK you might be able to find agave nectar at a health food store or online. It might also be called Agave syrup. In the US it has become pretty popular and can be found in almost all stores. It is a syrup made from a cactus, is sweeter than honey but a thinner consistency. - 8/10/2012   8:38:57 AM
  • 17
    delicious! - 8/10/2012   7:16:21 AM
  • 16
    Sensible question first: can I use something instead of agave syrup, which I may not be able to get in the UK?

    Wistful question: would also like to add small quantity of chopped dark chocolate.

    Unanswerable question: they are clearly going to be delicious, so how do I avoid eating the whole batch at one sitting? - 8/10/2012   4:54:50 AM
  • R_ADAME
    15
    ok, I gotta ask...can I add chocolate chips to these????? - 8/10/2012   3:58:17 AM
  • 14
    I prefer chewy to almost soft. The crunchy ones remind me too much of my dog's biscuits. :-) Thanks for the hndy "make at home" series, esp. in this economy! - 8/10/2012   3:25:27 AM
  • LYNNATION
    13
  • LYNNATION
    12
    I've been seeing articles lately that say agave is highly processed and basically the same as or worse than high fructose corn syrup. I haven't done any research so cannot conclusively state anything, but if this is something you care about you might want to check it out. - 8/10/2012   1:49:08 AM
  • 11
    If you make them you know whats in them. When you buy them they arent usually as healthy. - 8/10/2012   1:15:00 AM
  • 10
    you can get agave at Kmart it is a healthier type of sugar - 8/10/2012   12:23:34 AM
  • 9
    Definitely these for breakfast!!! - 8/10/2012   12:21:12 AM
  • SHELBYSINCLAIR
    8
    This is probably a dumb question...but what is agave nectar, anyways? - 8/9/2012   11:50:53 PM
  • ANDIRUNS
    7
    Chris3874 - you can get Agave Nectar at Costco or Superstore in the Natural Foods aisles. - 8/9/2012   11:31:54 PM
  • 6
    sounds great but I wouldn't have a clue where to get agave nectar in Edmonton - 8/9/2012   10:34:43 PM
  • 5
    I just buy chewy granola bars as I think they are much less expensive than trying to make them. Every week I find one of the brands on sale so they aren't a big issue. Bought the "jumbo" size box last time. - 8/9/2012   7:45:14 PM
  • COLIEH
    4
    I'm so glad I didn't buy that Costco pack of granola bars! These look way less expensive and more nutritious! - 8/9/2012   7:12:01 PM
  • EIREGAL19
    3
    These look well tasty i'll be trying them out this weekend - 8/9/2012   6:14:31 PM
  • GRANNYQUINN
    2
    Wow, these look easy and delish! :) - 8/9/2012   2:36:27 PM

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