This healthy granola bar recipe is quick and easy, and perfect for involving children in the kitchen. These homemade granola bars are no-bake, gluten free, and also incredibly versatile, so you and your family can customize them to your tastes.
A Healthy Granola Recipe to Make with Your Little Ones
I found that gluten free homemade granola bars were such a benefit after the birth of my daughter. Like other breastfeeding moms, I was hungry all the time but had a difficult time feeding myself properly and preparing full meals. Only later did I learn that oats are actually really helpful with milk production, but I guess my body knew it already instinctively.
Luckily, granola bars are incredibly easy to make because they simply involve mixing some ingredients together, pressing them into a pan, and freezing them until set. Now, my daughter is old enough to enjoy these bars herself and make them with me.
How to Make Healthy Granola Bars
This healthy granola bar recipe has a relatively simple ingredient list that consists of pantry staples you may already have available to you, especially if you have a young family or are used to preparing healthy snacks. These include items like quick oats, puffed rice cereal, natural peanut butter, and coconut oil. Using a puffed cereal in the mix helps to make the bars lighter as opposed to using only oats, which makes much denser bars.
Of course, don't let the peanut butter deter you from making these if you have a family member with a peanut allergy. Another type of nut or seed butter, such as almond butter or cashew butter should work just fine in this bar recipe. SunButter is a particularly good substitution for peanut butter if you know that you will be sending your children to school or daycare with these granola bars and need something nut free.
To make gluten free granola bars, start by preparing a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can line it with a reusable baking mat if you have that available to you. I highly recommend cutting the parchment paper so that it comes over the sides of the pan for easy removal. Once the bars set, you will be able to simply grab the corners and lift the bars out to a cutting board to slice.
Making the Granola Mixture
To make the granola mixture, toss the dry ingredients including the quick oats with the puffed rice cereal in a large bowl. At this point, you can also add optional add-ins like dried fruit, seeds, or nuts. You can also add chocolate chips to the recipe but should wait until after the granola mixture has cooled so that the chocolate chips don't melt.
Next, you make the syrup by combining your choice of liquid sweetener in a small saucepan with the oil. These can be either honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar, but stick to maple or agave if you are following a vegan diet. When I make these bars, I usually use honey as I find it grants them the best consistency and flavour. This mixture should simmer for a minute or so before you add in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt, and stir until smooth.
The next step to making this healthy granola bar recipe is tossing the dry mixture with the wet mixture until well-combined, before pressing in the baking pan. I like to use a flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass to level the mixture out.
Finishing the Granola Bars Recipe
These chewy granola bars will need about 30 minutes to firm up in the freezer. However, be sure to allow the mixture to cool a little in the pan before adding to the freezer so that you don't push the freezer temperature up higher than it should be.
Once the granola bars set, you can remove them to a cutting board and slice them into 20 bars. Unlike traditional baked granola bars, these ones should be refrigerated in an airtight container during storage to ensure they hold together.
Flavour Variations for this Healthy Granola Recipe
As mentioned earlier, these chewy granola bars are so versatile and you can add whatever your favourite granola ingredients are. The key, however, is to ensure you don't add so many additional ingredients that the bars won't hold together. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
Chocolate Chip Cereal Bars: Mix ¼ to ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips into the granola mixture after letting it cool with the syrup for a few minutes. Feel free to use milk chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, or chocolate chunks instead as well.
Superfood Cereal Bars: Add between ¼ cup and ½ cup mixed seeds and dried fruit to the granola mixture. These can include pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, dried blueberries, goji berries, flax seeds, and more.
Other Granola Recipes You'll Love:
Healthy Granola Bars
- 3 cups quick oats
- 3 cups puffed rice cereal
- ¾ cup liquid natural sweetener honey, maple syrup, agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- optional add-ins: chocolate chips dried fruit, nuts, seeds
- Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or a reusable baking mat. Any overhang will make removal from the pan much easier.
- In a large bowl combine the quick oats and puffed rice cereal; along with any optional add-ins you might like (but add any chocolate chips later only).
- In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil and your liquid sweetener of choice on medium-low heat. Once bubbling, turn heat down to low and simmer for at least 1 minute.
- Then add in the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir to melt and combine.
- Pour the liquid mixture over the dry cereal and mix until all the cereal is well coated.
- Transfer the mix to the prepared baking pan and press the cereal mixture down and into the corners very firmly. Use a measuring cup or glass with a flat bottom to help even out the surface.
- Freeze the bars for at least 30 minutes to set up. Then lift from the pan and cut into 20 even bars. Store refrigerated
Absolutely! Making your own granola bars allows you to control ingredients, avoiding unnecessary additives. You can choose wholesome options like natural sweeteners, nuts, and seeds.
Nut butters, like peanut or almond butter, work excellently as binders. They add flavor and help hold the ingredients together. Alternatively, honey or maple syrup can serve as sweet, sticky binders.
Yes, it's often more economical. Buying ingredients in bulk allows you to make multiple batches. Plus, you skip the markup associated with pre-packaged granola bars.
Absolutely. You have control over the ingredients, minimizing added sugars and artificial components. Homemade granola lets you tailor the recipe to your nutritional preferences and dietary needs.