There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about granola bars. Many health-minded parents consider packaged granola bars a healthy snack choice, but the truth is, most granola bars are mainly made of sugar, carbs, and low-quality oils. Not to mention the high amounts of chemical additives to increase their shelf life and boost their taste.
A high-quality granola bar should be packed with protein, fiber, good fats, minerals, and vitamins, which will boost your energy and keep you full for a few hours without causing a sugar spike.
And the best way to be sure of that is by making your own granola bars.
But don’t despair. I promise my homemade granola bars are totally worth the effort. They’re very easy to make, don’t require any baking, and are delicious. My kids absolutely love them and I find them extremely hard to resist as well. And why would I ;-).
Try dipping these in a glass of hot milk (organic cow’s or plant-based). Heavenly!
They can be frozen in individual portions, so all you need to do on busy mornings is pull one out of the freezer and pop in your kids’ school bag. They’ll be ready to eat by snack time.
They also contain everything you need for a balanced and fulfilling breakfast. Perfect for those super busy mornings when everyone seems to run in the wrong direction and shoes and keys cannot be found.
What makes homemade granola bars healthy?
- Fiber: the nuts, coconut, and oats provide lots of high quality fiber which increases satiety, optimizes bowel movements, and helps control blood sugar levels.
- High-quality protein, provided by the nuts, nut butter, and oats. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies and kids need tons of those to grow and build their muscles, bones, skin, cells, hormones, blood and organs. In addition, protein makes you feel full for a long time, and helps keep your blood sugar under control.
- High-quality fats: nuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are protective against heart diseases, provide satiety (which makes it hard to overeat), and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL)
- A great source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and several B-vitamins including folate, and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium.
- High in antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids and resveratrol that help reduce inflammation
- 1 + ¼ cup pecans (150 g/5.3 oz.)
- ½ cup oats (70g/2.5 oz.)
- 1 cup almond meal (125g/4.4 oz.)
- ½ cup shredded coconut (70g/2.5 oz.)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup (a little less) almond butter (250g/8.8 oz.)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Maple syrup (90 ml/3 oz.)
- 2-3 tbsp. purified water (optional)
- Lightly dry roast the pecans in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. This will enhance the flavor. Stir frequently and be careful not to let them burn.
- In a food processor, roughly chop the pecans for about 5-10 seconds. You can also use a chef’s knife for this step. It’s important to keep some structure to make your bars crunchy.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Now briefly pulse the oats to break them up (+/- 10 seconds) and add them to the bowl.
- Add the almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and salt and stir well.
- Add the wet ingredients: almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and mix well. I find it easiest to knead the mixture with my hands (good workout for your hand muscles by the way)
- The dryness of the mixture will depend on the thickness of your nut butter. If too dry (crumbly) add a few tablespoons of water, starting with 1 or 2 and adding more if needed. Should your mixture be too moist, then add some oats. Over the next hour the oats will absorb some of the liquids, so it’s better to make them a little too moist than too dry.
- Line a square baking tin with baking paper (mine is 21 cm x 21 cm or 8.3 x 8.3 inch) and add the mixture. Use your hands or a spoon to arrange the mixture evenly and press firmly down with your hands
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set
- Slice into 4 even rows and columns to obtain 16 squares
- Either keep in the fridge for about 5 days, or wrap individually and store in the freezer for several months