The quest for a delicious healthy granola bar has been a long one. Usually it needs to be a nut-free granola bar safe for school, and it has to pass the kid taste test. Plus it has to be refined sugar free, use real food ingredients, and give adults the protein we need in a snack. A long time ago I shared this recipe for a homemade granola bar, now I’ve updated my standards and sharing with you my latest healthy granola bar recipe. The new recipe guide is dairy free, gluten-free, (nut-free if needed,) and full of flavor.
Old fashioned, or large flakes, oats are still the base of my granola bar. They are fairly inexpensive and adding them helps to stretch your dollars. However, I do recommend the gluten-free organic oats when you can find them. Oats are a heavily sprayed crop with pesticides so it’s in your best interest to opt for organic when possible.
Natural Sweeteners for Healthy Granola Bars
You won’t find any refined sugar in this granola bar, or sugar hiding as brown rice syrup or tapioca syrup and so on. The two sweeteners I’m using here are Medjool dates and a little bit of molasses. The dates provide fiber, plus vitamins B6, potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. The molasses contains manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. Always opt for blackstrap molasses and not the imitation stuff. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which we need to help rid ourselves of toxins that can build up in our body from the environment.
Regular sugar doesn’t have any of that good stuff, and instead can aggravate anyone with inflammatory conditions like headaches, joint pain, skin issues, and autoimmune conditions. Generally everyone I know suffers from something on this list. Swapping out our sweeteners to use unrefined sugars 9 out 10 times has really helped our family’s health this year. (I haven’t mastered sugar cookies without sugar, but let me know if you do!) The less sugar you have in your diet to begin with, the less you crave it.
Take a look at the granola bars from the stores and you will often find sugar as the first ingredient. It may be hiding under a different name, but it’s still there. I’m not just talking about kid granola bars either, those energy bars everywhere are like candy bars for grown ups. Always read your label and you may be surprised that a real food isn’t the first ingredient.Those energy bars everywhere are like candy bars for grown ups. Always read your label and you may be surprised that a real food isn't the first ingredient.Click To Tweet
My healthy granola bar recipe is easy to update to a nut-free version. You can make them safe those with nut allergies by using sunflower butter instead of almond butter. I baked them once with both sunflower butter, and sunflower seeds, and it was just too much sunflower! The recipe is easy to adapt to your personal likes/kids’ dislikes and it will still come together. You will need to bake them for a short time, and let it cool thoroughly, which helps it retain its shape. No one wants a crumbly granola bar!
How to make healthy granola bars at home
- 2 cups organic gluten-free oats (old-fashioned/large flake)
- 6 pitted Medjool dates, chopped
- ½ cup dried fruit (unsweetened cranberries or cherries)
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup almond butter or nut-free butter
- ½ cup raw honey
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 11/2 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x11 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, dates, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and salt.
- Over low heat, add the almond butter, honey, coconut oil, and molasses to a small saucepan. Gently warm and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and stir to combine.
- Transfer the granola mixture to the baking pan and press down evenly using your hands or a spatula.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut into desired size and store in an airtight container.
Have fun making your own healthy granola bars. Let me know how they turn out!
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About Emily Roach
Emily Roach is a culinary nutrition expert and works with clients to create a healthy lifestyle design. She loves teaching her kids how to cook, playing tennis and inspiring women to take control of their health. Emily does one-on-one consulting, cooking workshops and speaking engagements.