Saturday, December 19, 2015

Homemade Granola Bars

Last year I made granola bars as Christmas gifts for most of my family and friends. Everyone loved them so I'm doing it again this year. Like most foods, making granola bars from scratch creates a healthier version than popular pre-made brands. This year I've slightly altered my recipe and created nutrient fact panels.

Here's the basic recipe I've been using:
8x8 pan
1½ cup Oats
½ cup Brown Rice Syrup
1 cup Crunchy (nuts, graham crackers etc.)
½ cup Sweet (chocolate, marshmallows, dried fruit etc.)
½ cup Other (pumpkin seeds, sesame sticks, cereal flakes, etc.)
Optional tablespoon of peanut butter, coconut oil, etc
Optional teaspoon vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa powder etc

Makes 8-10 bars
Bars stay fresh for two weeks.
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Mix ingredients in a bowl
3. Lightly grease pan before pouring in the granola mix. Distribute evenly
4. Bake for 20-30 minutes
5. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting

For Christmas 2014, I made flavors like Cranberry-Walnut-Pumpkin Seed, Dark Chocolate-Walnut-Cranberry, Peanut butter-Chocolate chip, Smores (chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers), and Dark Chocolate-Coconut-Cashew. In my original post, I explained the health benefits of some of the ingredients I chose. 

For Christmas 2015, I mixed up the ingredients creating flavors like teddy-graham smores, cranberry-almond-pumpkin seed, double nut-chocolate chip, and dark chocolate-walnut-cranberry. This year I used the USDA super-tracker site to get nutrient information and a free label generator from to create nutrient fact panels for my bars.

Almond-Cranberry-Pumpkin Seed Bars:

Double Nut-Chocolate Chip Bars:

Teddy Graham Smores Bars:

When comparing my bars to popular brands like Quakers, Nature Valley and Special K bars, I noticed that these brands seem to determine the bar size based on the amount that will equal 100 calories. My bars are much larger (about 1 inch by 4 inches) than Quaker or special k bars. They are closest to the size of a nature valley bar but a bit thicker.

While my bars contain more calories than these brands, they also contain more protein, dietary fiber, and minerals like calcium and iron. Except for my smores bars, I used all organic ingredients containing no soy or corn syrup. (I used teddy grahams and marshmallows in the smores that did contain these ingredients and were not organic.) 

My fruit, nut and seed bars are a healthy alternative to more processed products available today. Pumpkin seeds, cranberries, walnuts, almonds, cashews and peanut butter are healthy snack options that provide a variety of nutritional benefits. 

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