Better Than Store-Bought: Granola Bars

By , Bryn Mooth
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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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