Monday, July 12, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

Guest Post by Amanda

As a working mother of two children, with a daily, long DC-area commute, I typically don’t have time to eat a healthy breakfast at home before heading out to work. I also commonly find myself in need of a healthy, filling snack in my desk or purse, e.g., when a meeting runs late or I get stuck in traffic. I noticed about a year ago that I was constantly buying granola bars! My son ate them, my husband ate them, I ate them- and we were always running out! Additionally, I found that the flavors I really liked were typically hard to find on sale or get for a good price with coupons. Out of frustration with being out of granola bars- AGAIN- I sought out a solution to make them myself. I found this recipe from smitten kitchen, which I found to be remarkably similar to a Nature Valley oat and honey bar,with the welcome changes of it being a good bit softer and less crumbly, and having yummy dried berries. I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my family’s tastes, but it is super flexible and easily changed. Here is my adapted version:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut loosely packed
½ cup milled flax seed
2/3 cup honey
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra light olive oil or Canola oil
1 package dried mixed berries

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Line a rectangular baking dish with parchment paper and trim off excess.

Dump oatmeal, almonds, coconut, and flax seed together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 15 min, stirring about halfway through, until lightly browned. I used unsulphured coconut flakes from the health food store, which are quite fragrant when toasting, so I know that when I smell it- it’s almost ready. While the mixture is toasting, measure honey, vanilla, salt, and oil into a large bowl. Add the toasted ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until everything is well coated. Pour back into your prepared baking dish, and press firmly with a flat potato masher (you can use a scrap of parchment between masher and mixture if you feel like the masher is sticking) until you think that the mixture is well packed, or you get sick of dealing with this.

Bake for about 25 min, until light golden brown. Longer will give a more crisp bar, but I prefer mine a little softer. Cool in pan on a wire cooling rack. When cool, remove with parchment attached, and cut into squares with a large chef’s knife. (I catch all the crumbs and use them for yogurt.) Store the bars in an airtight container on the counter. I think that they will last about a week, but that has never been a problem in my family!

Since I’m always short on time, I find that planning ahead (especially for the morning rush) is the best strategy for my family. I usually whip up a batch on Sunday nights after the kids are in bed.  I put everything in the oven to toast, prep the wet ingredients, and try to clean up kitchen/pick up toys/pack lunches, etc. while they bake. I cut them into bars and drop them into our snack bags the next morning. These may not be much cheaper than buying granola bars, but I know what all of the ingredients are, and I can customize them to my family’s taste. Plus, I can whip up a batch anytime I like. I keep all of the ingredients on hand at home, and I was pleased to find out that I can buy most of these in bulk at my local health food co-op.

Easy Variations:
Maple-Almond: swap maple syrup for honey and almond extract for vanilla, omit berries
Cinnamon: stir in a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon with the wet ingredients
Peanut butter: add about 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter with the wet ingredients
Use your imagination to customize these to suit your family! Enjoy!

Amanda is a working mom to two beautiful children, aged 1 and 3, and the wife of an incredibly sweet and helpful husband. She struggles to apply frugal living concepts to their busy lives and find a balance between saving money and spending time. Amanda lives with her family in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC.


  1. This looks yummy! I've never tried homemade granola, but can't wait to try this recipe out. Thanks Amanada for sharing!

  2. These granola bars are really yummy! Thanks for the recipe!


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