Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Healthier Homemade Granola & Granola Bars

Granola is a very easy to make and versatile food.  It can be eaten plain as-is, for breakfast with fresh berries and milk, as a little snack for work, hiking, for kids lunches, or it even used as a breading for chicken or fish - yes, I did just go there (and it is delish!)  :)

Since this recipe uses a lot of nuts and seeds, I had to test out several times and temperatures.  I found what works - and what definitely does not work based on this recipe.

Here's a healthier alternative to store-bought granola, which usually contains added unnecessary sugars, food coloring, preservatives and other potentially harmful ingredients. If you press this particular recipe mixture together on a cookie tray, you can make it into bars - cutting them into the shape you'd like.  The granola bars will turn out crunchy, much like the Nature Valley Oats & Honey bars. 
Granola Bars
Granola with Greek Yogurt
Granola with Yo Baby Yogurt

**Granola traditionally has a lot of calories and is not meant to be eaten in bulk.  It is meant to help sustain energy using complex carbohydrates and is meant to be a nice and delightful little snack that is both crunchy and delicious.  Add it to yogurt for a little texture for a power-packed breakfast.  I hope you enjoy this fun little treat!  My little toddler even loves this snack!**

Just as a note - since I usually make everything in bulk, you may want to cut the recipe in half if you'd don't want as much.

Healthier Homemade Granola (& Granola Bars)
Yields about 6 cups granola and 12 granola bars

1 package Bobs Red Mill Museli (18 oz)
1-18 oz container rolled oats
2 cups raw almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas - they are green)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raisins (regular or golden - or both)
1 cup dried cranberries (try to stick with the healthiest option)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup cinnamon (you can add more or less based on your preference)
4 Tbsp. Vanilla, or to taste
3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil (unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin)
1 cup honey (or brown rice syrup), use more if necessary
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (or you can omit this and bump up the honey if desired)
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a very large bowl.  Toss together with your hands, making sure to break up the coconut oil with your hands.    The mixture should be slightly damp, not dry and crumbly.  When you press the mixture into a ball with your hands, it should hold its shape.  Don't be afraid to add more almond butter if needed or more honey.

Coconut Oil is Solid at Room Temp
Extra-Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil

**Why use cold-pressed extra-virgin coconut oil? Its process uses pressure instead of heat, therefore retaining most of the nutrients and antioxidants for added nutrition. Even though coconut oil is saturated fat, it is now found that this oil is good for your heart, is better than polyunsaturated oils such as vegetable oil, helps to support the immune system, helps aid the thyroid, boosts your metabolism, has antibacterial properties & is quick energy. It is also a great body lotion!

Raw Mixture

Almond Butter

**Make Your Own Almond Butter:
Place 2 cups of raw almonds with about 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a food processor.  Pulse until combined then blend together until smooth (scraping down the sides when necessary).  Keep refrigerated in a mason jar.  Almond butter can last for about 3 months in the refrigerator (although I would make smaller, fresh batches if possible).

To Make Granola: Leave mixture crumbly.  You may even make small balls out of the mixture or clump small amounts together to give your granola more texture.  Line a cookie tray with foil (shiny side up).  Spray lightly with pan spray.  Spread about one-third of the mixture out on the tray (only enough to make one thin layer).  Bake granola for about 45-55 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or less.  You can tell it is done when the mixture starts to turn golden brown and dries out slightly.  The mixture will not be completely dry right out of the oven.  It continues to dry when cooling.

Repeat baking process for another batch of the granola. Let granola cool completely before placing in bags or containers.

To Make Granola Bars: Take the remaining 1/3 batch of granola and press it onto a pan sprayed cookie tray.  (You may alternately use a pan sprayed muffin tin to make small individual portions).  You will want to press the mixture together pretty firmly and square off the edges as neatly as possible. make it about 1/2-inch thick or so.  Bake in a 275 degrees F oven for about 50-60 minutes or more, depending on your oven and how dark you like your granola bars.  Check the bars every 10 minutes or so to ensure it does not burn (because it will burn very quickly if not watched).

When bars have finished baking, let cool slightly but cut them while they are still warm.  Let the bars cool completely before packaging.
Before Baking Granola Bars

After Baking Granola Bars

After Baking & Cutting Granola Bars


  1. It looks so yummy! Did you find this to be very cost effective? About how much did it cost for about how many ounces? Thank you!

    1. Hi Callie! Thanks for the comment :) It was cost effective only if looking at the big picture of health and if you would use coconut oil or any of the other ingredients again. Although some homemade foods can never compete with the great prices of large manufacturers, you just never know what kind of "junk" is in it anymore. It made me feel better knowing that I knew exactly what was in it. To me, that alone made it worth every penny :) To save even more, just use rolled oats instead of the museli and sub out a few of the other ingredients as well. Since there were a lot of leftover ingredients such as the almond butter, honey, and coconut oil, it is difficult to estimate exact cost. It most likely is more expensive than store bought, but this way, you can control your ingredients and have an incredibly nutrient dense product, which most store bought products will not have. Best of luck! :)

  2. Do you 'activate' the raw seeds/nuts? If not, why not? Thanks

    1. Hi! You absolutely can "activate" the raw seeds by soaking them in cold water first. This will help improve nutrition slightly if the bars are eaten raw but if they are baked, some of the nutrition may be lost. The same will happen with most, if not all, cooked foods. Optimal nutrition is found in raw amd/or sprouted products due to the volatile nature of the delicate oils in them. Thanks for the great question! :)