These made from scratch bars are full of healthy and wholesome goodness with no added preservatives or colors. They are mostly healthy because they also have some butter and chocolate chips in them (you want them to taste good right?). I've been working on the proportions to try to find the right balance between taste and healthiness. The original recipe had more butter and sugar, but these are still very sweet. If you want a chewier bar you can add more butter. Feel free to use this recipe as a jumping off point and make the recipe fit your preferences.
One way to save a few calories is to use agave nectar as a sweetener. This all natural syrup is 25% sweeter than sugar which means a little bit goes a long way. It also has a lower glycemic index which means it is absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream so you don't get that sugar rush and crash.
It's nice to know exactly what's in the snacks you're child is eating. These granola bars have lots of healthy nuts and grains, but the kiddo thinks they're a treat because they are sweet and have chocolate chips on top. It's a win -win recipe. Here are the proportions I've come up with to make one cookie sheet or jelly roll pan of bars:
Mostly Healthy Granola Bars
5 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoon oil
A total of 3/4 cup of sweeteners in whatever combination you like. I use 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup agave nectar and 1/8 cup molasses with 1/8 cup honey. You can also use maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or brown sugar.
1/4 cup peanut butter (you could use another nut butter - I think almond butter would be delish)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds ( I use roasted and salted)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Optional substitutions: pecans, dried fruit such as cranberries, apricots or raisins, sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal, wheat germ... and my favorite: jam to spread on top before baking.
Okay, so you decide what ingredients you like in your granola bars and get everything ready to go. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt the butter, oil and sweeteners together in a pan. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and stir until melted and combined. If you're using dried fruit, go ahead and add it here.
While that is melting, combine the oats, flour, coconut, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or whatever nuts you're using in a large bowl. Do NOT add the chocolate chips yet or they will melt. Pour the melted butter and peanut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread this all over the parchment lined pan in an even layer. It will be fairly thin so you have to really spread it around. Now sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and press them down a little. Finally, you can spread some jam in stripes or dots on top if you wish. Last time I made these I used some raspberry jam on top and it was so yummy. Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let this burn - keep an eye on it and check it early. They are done when lightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Lift the granola bar from the pan using the parchment paper and cut into whatever shape you like. I like diamond shaped bars. I keep these in the refrigerator because the chocolate chips get gooey easily. They are great for breakfast, a snack or dessert.