Power Packed Granola Bars

Granola bars are extremely popular around the world.  They are eaten by some as breakfast and others as a healthy snack option.   Granola bars are typically packed with nutrients and easy to store.  It can be overwhelming the amount and varieties of granola bars available at the grocery store.  The flavor combinations and brand types seem endless.

I used to be a pre-packaged granola bar junkie.  I would always have a least four different boxes of granola bars stashed in my pantry.  I was known for always having a couple bars in my car, as well, just in case I needed a quick snack on the go.  When I became more health aware of the foods I was eating, I started to analyze the ingredients that were in the granola bars I was eating.  Some had ingredients that were great, others had ingredients that were down right awful.  While I found the healthier granola bars acceptable for me to eat, they very expensive to purchase and thus I decided to make granola bars of my own.

Most granola bars contain oats, nuts and berries.  These ingredients are great by themselves but they do not naturally stick together so additional ingredients are needed in order for the granola to become a bar.  These ingredients are typically held together with various binding agents such as corn syrup, oils, sugar and glycerine.  Most granola bars also contain artificial colors and preservatives.  I am not a fan of any of these ingredients so I needed to find a healthier way to make my granola bars.

I first needed to find a way for my granola ingredients to stick together.  Honey is a sweet, sticky ingredient that is sometimes used to combine ingredients together.  I figured honey would be a good replacement for the corn syrup.  While honey is sweet, its sweetness is generally light and I wanted my granola bar to have a rich, deep sweetness as well.  Adding a touch of molasses helps bring a level of depth to the sweetness that cannot be achieved by honey alone.  Molasses is a strong flavor so only a small bit is needed.

Large amounts of oil is typically used in prepared granola bars.  Oil keeps the ingredients moist and chewy.  I decided for my healthy granola bar I would use unsweetened applesauce and coconut oil to give my granola bar the same chewy texture.  Unsweetened applesauce is one of my favorite replacement ingredients and in this recipe it really does work very well.  It helps bind the ingredients and keeps them moist.  The coconut oil also provides a nice level of moisture to the granola bar and the mild coconut flavor complements all the other granola flavors.

The recipe I have included here is for a basic granola bar recipe.  You can alter the ingredients to fit your needs and wants.  Tropical dried fruits like pineapple and mango can be used instead of the dried fruits I have listed (cranberries and raisins).  Or if you are not a fan of peanuts (or any of the other nuts) you can replace them with pecans or crushed hazelnuts.  Just like there are a million combinations of granola bars available at the grocery store, you as well can have a million combinations at home.  Unlike some recipes, were you need to careful about substitutions or mix ins, this recipe is no fail type recipe and substitutions are very easy to exchange.

Power Packed Granola Bars

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats 

1/4 cup raw sliced almonds

1/4 cup raw crushed walnuts 

1/4 cup raw peanuts

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon molasses 

2 tablespoons coconut oil 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered vanilla extract)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup raisins 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9 by 9 inch glass baking dish with spay coconut oil. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients above.  Stir well to combine.  Pour mixture into greased dish and press down to evenly distributing the mixture.  Place the dish in the pre-heated oven to bake for 25 minutes (or until slightly brown). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wired cooling rack. Once the granola has cooled, cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.


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