Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Oat Bars

I'm a mother who stays home, not a homemaker in the Leave it to Beaver sense. You won't find creative recipes, tips for packing healthy lunch boxes, or perfectly decorated cookies on my blog. Until now.

Operation Green Things, in which I'm learning to cook vegetables and introduce them to my children, continues. Asparagus is now a regular thing with the adults. But Operation Green Things is only part of a wider effort to improve our eating habits, especially my children's.

One area where I consistently fell short was the after school snack. My kids usually eat something in the car en route to the day's lesson or practice, or they rush to the pantry first thing when they get home. For convenience, I relied on prepackaged granola bars, snack crackers, and pretzels. It's not like I was feeding them Cheetos every afternoon, but there was room for improvement.

For years, I've tried homemade granola bar and similar recipes with no takers. Until now.

I've begun to try each of the assorted unattributed recipes I own for healthy granola bars and other portable snacks, modifying them to be more healthy yet something my kids will eat. Miraculously, I hit the ball out of the park on my first try. The kids ate them, requested them, and in a moment that nearly knocked me flat in the kitchen, chose these bars over a box of cheese crackers and other salty goodness.

A healthy and portable oat bar snack my picky kids will eat.

In case such selections also are rare at your house, I'll share what worked for me:

Oat Bars

1 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. quick oats
1 c. almond meal
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. agave nectar
1/4 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk or coconut milk
2 T coconut oil, melted or canola oil
small handful of Craisins, chocolate chips, or other add-in

Blend both oats in the food processor until ground. In a bowl, mix the ground oats, almond meal, sea salt, and cinnamon. Mix with a whisk.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with a plastic spatula. Spread the mixture into an 8x8 pan greased with cooking spray. Cut into bars with a sharp knife before baking to make easier to cut once baked. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until beginning to brown on the edges. Let cool, cut, and store in a sealed container until everyone eats them all.

I've made these both with coconut oil (which comes as a solid, FYI) and canola oil. My husband and kids ate both and didn't seem to notice the difference. I don't care for the taste of coconut so preferred those with canola oil.

Shockingly, the kids preferred the Reduced Sugar Craisins to the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Any dried fruit likely would be a good addition.

I think the sea salt is the key. If you have some on hand, be sure to use it rather than table salt. The larger sea salt grains provide a nice salty kick.

These are not very crumbly, so I even let the kids eat them in the car. I put one bar and a handful of almonds in a snack container for each when I head off to pick up the kids from school. The kids eat them, and I feel like a wildly successful Donna Reed-Martha Stewart hybrid.

Try these and let me know if your kids enjoy them. You can still knock me over with a feather about my success with this one.

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I've linked this post with Whatever Wednesdays. Follow the link for more recipes.


  1. Susie learn something new everyday

  2. Homemade granola bars are great. I like that you use non-dairy milk. I cook with both coconut and almond milk and they both work really well.

  3. Do you suppose you could sub out the maple syrup for honey... we are not fans of maple around these parts.

    1. I bet you could, but it likely would be a lot sweeter. It only calls for 1/4 c., and with the addition of the second sweetener, I don't taste the maple flavor at all.