Kid Tested. Mother Approved!
Healthy Granola Bars
As much as I would love to see summer, and the fantastic weather last forever, there comes a time that we all give in to the idea that the lazy, more unstructured days are coming to and end and it’s time to get serious again. Back to a more hurried pace and often winging it in the food department. Let’s be honest, without a plan, it’s hard to stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
Slice and then package up for individual grab and go breakfast or healthy snacks.
One thing that makes life easier is having a “grab and go” option for breakfast, post or pre workout, lunch boxes, or after school snacks. Something that is equally satisfying nutritionally and in the taste department. An item you can make in advance, that doesn’t take long to prepare and will stay good for awhile.
Packaged and ready to go!My quest to find an option that passed muster in the “grab and go” category began years ago when I realized that my son would prefer things that come in packages to my own wholesome and homemade recipes. Not only did I take it personally, but it also went against my grain to buy the processed crap. I noticed on days that I packed his lunch and snacks, the bag was full of nutritious choices that I felt good about sending with him, but often the lunch bag came home with most of those items still in there, or a story about the loot he traded my good food for. Often it was a granola bar.
To be honest, I started experimenting with granola bars back when there weren’t many options in the stores and when you’d read the ingredient list you would find very little REAL FOOD in there and many words that were hard to pronounce and I’m not sure WHAT they were. Fast forward several years and many failed experiments later (a few noteworthy granola recipes from the crumbs of tasty bars that just wouldn’t hold together though), my son, the recent college grad is living at home, packing lunches and snacks for his real world job. He would still be happy with store bought granola bars, and while the options out there have improved, most of the more nutritious ones taste more like cardboard than food.
While my son was busy earning his degree, I’ve been out of the school lunch making business and focusing on growing my health coaching practice. I have found that while I may have a new audience, I’ve been on a similar quest to find a good “grab and go” snack to buy or recommend. My clients are often asking, “which bar is a good one?” or “what are some healthy options for grab and go snacks for me or my children”?
So, recently I found myself back at it, trying to create a bar that is both nutritious and delicious. Pleasing my toughest critic, the recent college grad, wasn’t easy, but I finally developed a recipe that’s working well for us.
There are two ingredients the recent college grad looks for in a satisfying treat: chocolate and peanut butter. What’s not to like already, right? Me, the two things I’m looking to avoid (OK, maybe the list is a bit longer, but I’m trying in the compromise department) are refined sugar and hydrogenated oil. In this round of granola bar experiments, it only took 3 tries to get it right!! Seriously, I’m a bit more experienced in the kitchen making substitutions, a bit bolder and less hesitant to try things on a whim and I’m very clear about certain ingredients that I just don’t use regardless what the college grad insists on….and I also know what tastes good. I know what he looks for in a granola bar, and I know what you will be looking for too! You see, the college grad thinks he knows everything, but we all know that momma knows best!!
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup chopped nuts*
- 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
- ½ cup chopped dried cherries**
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup peanut (or almond) butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place oats nuts and seeds on baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes.
- Prepare 9×13 glass dish by lining with parchment paper. Use peanut or walnut oil to grease bottom of dish so parchment doesn’t slip around.
- Mix nut butter, honey and vanilla extract well and set aside.
- Place toasted oat mixture, remaining seeds, dried fruit, cinnamon and salt in large bowl and mix.
- Pour nut butter mixture into large bowl and stir until well incorporated.
- Mix in chocolate chunks.
- Pour batter (it will be very sticky) into prepared pan, pressing with moistened fingers to make sure it’s tightly packed.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
- Allow to cool COMPLETELY in the pan. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and then lift parchment edges to help remove from pan.
- Cut into bars and store in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
* What type of nuts and how finely you chop them will depend on your audience. Do you have nut and crunch lovers? Or are you trying to hide the nuts to gain nutritional value and still please your picky eater? I used medium chopped pecans.
** Any dried fruit will do. Raisins, apricots, cranberries are good options.
Amount Per Serving Calories 152Total Fat 3gCarbohydrates 28gProtein 5g