Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Clean Eating Healthy Homemade Granola Bars (No Bake)

These are amazing. I have one every afternoon and I look forward to it all day long :) I’m not kidding, every afternoon except maybe 5 for the past 2 1/2 years. Think I’m crazy? That’s cause you haven’t tried them yet. Matt will come home and I’ll be cranky and he’ll say, “We ran out of granola bars didn’t we?”… and he’s usually right.


This is definitely my signature recipe. The instructions might seem kind of long but there’s really a certain technique to getting them to stick together in firm bars verses crumbling into granola. In other words, if you don't do it EXACTLY as written or you skip some of the mixing, your bars WILL crumble. I’ve made them so many times now that I like to think I have it down to a science.


Don't get scared when you look at the calories. These are packed with protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. They are a great combo of complex carbs and protein and will keep you feeling full and satisfied, all in a neat little package you can throw into your purse. And the smidgen of chocolate is just enough that they taste like an indulgence. If you really want a lower calorie snack, you can always cut them into 20 bars instead of 16. They will still be more than satisfying.

Heaven in a bar :) :)
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts or other nuts
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 2/3 cups raisins or other chopped dried fruit
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups rolled or instant oats
  • ¼ cup toasted wheat germ (optional)
  • 2 cups toasted or puffed whole grain cereal (I use Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet. You can use Rice Krispies in a pinch but they are not whole grain)
  • ½ cup creamy natural peanut butter or other nut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
ONE: Coat a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray. Combine peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, chocolate chips, oats, cereal, and wheat germ in a large bowl. Mix well.


TWO: Combine peanut butter and honey in a large microwaveable bowl (tip: Use a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Pour the 1/2 cup of honey in first and then just drop plops of peanut butter in until the level reaches 1 cup. This saves you from measuring out the ½ cup of peanut butter and making another utensil dirty).


THREE: Microwave on High for 1 minute, stir well, and microwave for an additional minute or until bubbling. Add vanilla and stir until blended.


FOUR: Pour half of the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix it for a good 5 minutes until it's almost completely coated. I've found that the best way to mix it is to use the side of a large stiff rubber spatula and cut through the mix over and over while rotating the bowl. That breaks up all the clumps of moistened ingredients so that any remaining dry ingredients can be incorporated (I’ve tried using my hands before but so much of the sticky stuff gets stuck to them that my bars end up crumbly).


FIVE: Once it's totally mixed, pour the other half of the peanut butter mixture in, scraping every last drop out of the measuring cup. Repeat the slicing and mixing again. The mixing is so important because anything that is not sticking together going into the pan will likely not stick to the bar coming out.


SIX: Once the mixture has formed into a fairly solid ball, transfer it to the prepared pan. Press down firmly (it helps to coat your fingers with cooking spray). Really put some muscle into it because the harder you press the mixture down, the firmer the granola bars will be (I actually stand on a little stool to make me higher above my counter so that I can put more of my body weight into it. I don’t mess around on the pressing part).


SEVEN: Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to harden (I always let mine stay in the fridge overnight) and once firm, cut into bars (works best if you cut them into 16 short, fat bars instead of long, skinny bars).


If making 2 batches at once, measure and mix the first batch separately, press into the pan, and then place a layer of wax paper over the top. You can then measure and mix the second batch and press it into the pan on top of the first.


Individually wrap the bars as soon as possible so they don’t dry out and crumble (Glad Press n’ Seal works really well) and keep in the fridge or at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Freeze wrapped granola bars in a freezer bag. I put a week's worth in the fridge at a time and keep the other individually wrapped batches in gallon ziploc bags in the freezer. Once the fridge stash is gone I transfer another week’s from the freezer to the fridge and they are thawed and ready to eat when I need them.

Tip: I recommend cutting and wrapping your granola bars when your kids are napping because, if they're anything like mine, they will have what we call G-Bar Radar. My boys can smell a batch of granola bars a mile away and will flock to the kitchen and stand there begging for bites :)

Is that Granola Bars I smell?!?!
I can alllllmost reach.....

Success!!
Totally worth the effort :)
NUTRITION INFO:

Per 1 bar serving (cut into 16 bars)- 293 Calories (95 Calories from Fat), 11g Fat, 2g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 5mg Sodium, 44g Total Carbohydrates, 5g Dietary Fiber, 22g Sugars, 9g Protein, 0% DV Vitamin A, 1% DV Vitamin C, 3% DV Calcium, 11% DV Iron

Per 1 bar serving (cut into 20 bars)- 234 Calories (76 Calories from Fat), 9g Fat, 2g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 4mg Sodium, 35g Total Carbohydrates, 4g Dietary Fiber, 17g Sugars, 7g Protein, 0% DV Vitamin A, 1% DV Vitamin C, 2% DV Calcium, 9% DV Iron
:)

32 comments:

  1. Just made these yummy granola bars and I am so excited that I will never have to waste money on store bought ones again! They taste great and I know exactly what I am putting into my body. I added ground flax seed and chia seed to my batch for an extra health boost and I am going to try cashews, almond butter and cranberries next time. Thanks for another life-changing recipe!

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  2. Thank you for posting this!!!! I am with Jenn, my kids LOVE to eat those store bought box kind and I am always uneasy about them--how much sugar is actually in them, and perservatives!!!--well you get the point.

    I am printing the shopping list now and will have a batch made by sundown! again, thanks! :o)

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  3. Yummy! Just the recipe I've been looking for - thanks!

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  4. I have been looking for a granola bar recipe and this looks fantastic! I do make a baked granola that my family loves but I really wanted to do the bars. I think I will toss in some flax seed also just to add another boost of nutrition to this recipe. Thank you so much - can't wait to try them!

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  5. These look so good!!! My husband and I are trying to feed ourselves (and our kids) better foods. These look tasty enough to try out! Thanks!!!!

    FYI I got this link through the Frugal Girls!!

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  6. A Wannabe Skinny Mama, I LOVE the Frugal Girls :) And I totally checked out your cookies too, hehehe. I promise you these granola bars will fulfill your sweets craving. The little bit of chocolate really does the trick. Love the name of your blog!

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  7. I have gone out and purchased everything to make these. I am so excited. I got your link from frugal girls. thanks for sharing

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  8. I made these for the hubby but added pumpkin seeds and almonds as well (with a little more honey and peanut butter). He destroyed the batch and had his army friends asking for more the next day. LOVE IT!!

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  9. Thanks for a great healthy recipe to try!

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  10. We are making these after school this afternoon, can't wait to try them!

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  11. We made them, and I have eaten 3 today already! My 5 year old loves them too, which is great because I have been looking for a new healthy treat to put in his lunches. I am already thinking about the fruit/nut combo for the next batch, I think we might try dried apples, walnuts and cinnamon!

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  12. These are awesome! I have been looking for years for a REALLY clean bar that my son and husband will actually like. I believe these will definately do the trick. Thanks!

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  13. These look so yummy!

    One point of concern, though-- you're really not supposed to microwave honey. You know all of those healthy properties that honey has?... once you microwave it, poof. They're gone.

    Maybe another form of sweetener would do better, like agave? I'm not sure.

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  14. It works on the stove top too. I have accepted a challenge to avoid my microwave (just incase the scarey stories of microwaves evilness is true - lol).

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  15. I made these and they are delicious.....but they didn't "form a ball", even after adding extra nut butter and honey. I coated everything and pressed very hard, but the bars crumble apart when you pick them up. I will try again.

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  16. The same thing happened to be as above - it didn't form a ball and they're all crumbly. I will try again, though, because they do taste good.

    Any other suggestions?

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  17. Me too! It didn't form a ball and they crumbled, what a mess when you feed them to a 6, 4 and 2 year old. Does it need more liquid ingredients? P

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  18. I just made a batch of granola bars with a different recipe...now I'm smacking myself in the head thinking that I should have looked around first. Your recipe looks so yummy and EASY. I was searching the web trying to find out if I could freeze my granola bars. Yours will be my next recipe. I've saved it in my favorites. I can't wait...guess we'll have to eat these up quick! Thanks!

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  19. Made a batch and they are truly delicious! I did have the issue with the bars falling apart as others did and didn't see a solution for it. I will try again and see what happens. One question: what would you recommend swapping for the peanut butter for those with nut allergies?

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    1. We have substituted sunbutter for the peanut butter in the past with great success so I recommend trying that. As far as the sticking together goes, it's really all about the mixing and stirring. I pour half the honey-peanut butter mixture in and literally stir and scrape for 5 minutes then pour the rest in and use a rubber spatula to scrape every last drop out of the measuring cup. Then repeat the stirring and scraping for another 5 minutes. If all else fails you can try making them with 1/4 cup more of honey and 1/4 cup more of peanut butter. Making sure they stay in the fridge long enough before cutting is key as well. We always refrigerate ours overnight. We make at least one batch a week in our house and we make them EXACTLY like the recipe is written and we always get bars. Of course a little bit will crumble off of some of the bars while we're cutting but my kids have no problem cleaning those crumbs up for me ;) For the past month or so we haven't even been wrapping them individually, we've just been stacking them in a gallon sized bag and storing them in the fridge and they are still mostly bars until we get down to the very end. Once you've made them a few times you will be a pro and know exactly how much stirring you need to do. "Stick" with it heheheh :)

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  20. Thank you so much for the tasty, yet healthy, recipe. The only disappointment I'm feeling is a result of not coming up with this recipe on my own ;) - You are so talented. Thanks again for sharing this recipe, you made my life a little easier. Cheers!

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  21. This recipe is absolutely AMAZING!!!!! My family and I love them!!!

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  22. Thank you thank you thank you!
    After i noticed my hubby getting into this bar mania, i decided to try and make them myself.
    i spent days looking up recipes, even comparing them, and yours is the ONLY one that doesn't have sugar nor require baking!
    I haven't even tasted them yet, they are setting right now, but i was so excited to tell you how great your recipe is! i made a few changes in the added stuff (nuts, fruit, etc.) but the kept the binding ingredients exactly like yours. I didn't underestimate the pressing down, i followed your advice and actually put the tray on the floor to have all the necessary power to press :) i'm sure they'll turn out great, already love the smell!! thank you again!
    Dee

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  23. Thanks a ton for your recipe! The missus and I made them together and their sitting in the fridge chilling out (oooo .. that was a bad pun) waiting for us to munch on.

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  24. Yum!! I made mine with a mixture of sultanas cranberries and apricot and witg almonds instead of peanuts!! So delicious, thank you!

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  25. I started making these 6 months ago when I began helping my aunt out with her twins. Having to triple the recipe now! They are just that good! Thank you so very much for the awesome recipe. Saves me so much money!

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  26. These are wonderful! I make them all the time for my partner. Thank you!

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  27. I love the versatility. sesame seeds,walnuts,almonds,pine nuts,cashews,pecans, -rolled oats,steel cut oats, barley oats, nutritional yeast, -bran cereals, grapenuts, and real maple syrup instead of honey, tahini instead pb. Mix and match. Experiment.

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  28. I've been reading a lot about the importance of sprouting your grains before using them and I was wondering if you have tried that at all with this recipe.

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    1. I have never really looked into sprouting grains so I do not have any experience with it. However, my friend, Mandy, made them using cooked oatmeal the first time instead of raw because I hadn't specified that it was uncooked oatmeal when I was telling her the recipe. Hers still somehow came out fine so maybe it would work!! Let me know if you try it :) Good luck!
      ~Bri

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  29. Thanks for the absolutely FANTASTIC recipe! My husband loves them and is always concerned when we're getting low. I now make a quadruple batch at a time! I found that placing saran wrap on top of the bars then pressing them down with a lot of pressure with another pan is very helpfful in getting them to form into firm bars so they do not become crumbly :) I take these to work everyday, and it is always the first thing I scrounge around in my lunchbag to find!

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  30. I've adapted the recipe a little to my family's taste, but we LOVE them, and I have to make a batch every couple days. Thank you!!

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