Best Healthy Granola Bars
A homemade healthy granola bar recipe made with rolled oats and refined-sugar free. Customize with your favorite nuts and seeds for protein or dried fruits, coconut, chocolate chips or other favorite ingredients. A great snack to pack into a school lunch box or grab for a day on the go.
Let me apologize in advance for these. Once you make these thick and chewy granola bars, you are going to have a very hard time enjoying a store-bought granola bar. You are going to find yourself in the kitchen long after the sun has gone down, mixing up the ingredients for these bars. You will walk down the cereal aisle of your grocery store, looking through the granola bar choices, knowing that you have to choose one because you certainly don’t have the time each and every week to make your own. Or do you? Maybe you should try my no-bake granola bars or no-bake peanut butter granola bars too!
I have made and tested these granola bars three times in just the last few days and the recipe is just right. I adapted my starting recipe to make it healthier because if I am going to make a granola bar, I want it to be a healthy snack. I eat enough cookies already. 🙂 One change I made was to really cut down on the amount of sugar and it is now refined sugar-free. This recipe uses a ¼ cup of honey and they are plenty sweet, especially with dried fruit mixed in. I also replaced most of the butter with applesauce and boosted the healthy rolled oats and flaxseed.
Choosing Healthy Ingredients
As with many homemade foods, making your own granola bars allows you to completely control the ingredients and customize them to your preferences. This recipe gives you a healthy base with rolled oats and no refined sugars. Next, you can choose which mix-ins you want to add- nuts, dried fruits, seeds, coconut, even dark chocolate. I’ve made a couple varieties of these, one with chopped dried apricots and almonds, and another with dark chocolate chips, tart dried cranberries, and walnuts. I usually use almond butter in my bars because it has a milder flavor, but peanut butter would work as well and provide lots of protein too. If you add dried fruit check the labeling on the package. Many dried fruits like cranberries, cherries, and blueberries have added sugar.
These granola bars maintain their chewy texture best when stored in the refrigerator. They freeze really well too, wrapped airtight. I suggest making a double batch (fits in a 13×9 pan) and freezing half.
Healthy Granola Bars
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup oat flour, Quick Oat Flour: ½ cup oats finely ground in food processor or substitute with 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 3 tbsp. ground flaxseed
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup nut butter, I prefer almond butter
- ½ cup applesauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ – 2 cups of mix-ins, dried fruit, seeds nuts, other mix-ins
- Line an 8 x 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment, letting it hang over the edges on two opposite sides. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oats, oat flour (or whole-wheat flour), flaxseed, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, nut butter, applesauce, honey, and vanilla until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the bowl with the oat mixture and stir until well mixed. Stir in the dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc.
- Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hand to press it down into an even layer. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Refrigerate the bars in the pan for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars. The bars will maintain their chewy texture best if stored in the refrigerator. The granola bars freeze well, too, wrapped airtight.