Introduction: Easy Healthy Granola Bars
This recipe is simple, healthy, budget friendly, and endlessly customizable. Crunchy toasty goodness on the outside, chewy fruity niceness inside. What more could you want!
Basically you take three ingredients: condensed milk, rolled oats and shredded coconut, mix it together with whatever fruit and nuts you like, and bingo bango.. granola bars.
Perfect to take to work or school.
They are so much better than store bought, which I find always have too much sugar and not enough fibre and protein. With this recipe you can pack in all the good fibretastic fruits and proteiny nuts you like, and none you don't.
** Because of the sweetness of the condensed milk, there's no need to dump a whole lot of extra sugar in. If you'd like you can replace the sweetened condensed milk with regular, unsweetened condensed milk and they come out very nice. If you want to amp up the sweetness a bit, you can stir in a couple of tablespoons of honey or sweetener into the condensed milk when you warm it up.**
When I make these granola bars I usually grab just what I need from the bulk section of the grocery store, and even with expensive add-ins like dried cherries it rarely costs over $10, which comes out to about 0.60 cents a bar. Not too shabby.
I cut and wrap each bar individually in saran wrap, and freeze for up to 6 months. I pull one out in the morning and by the time lunch rolls around its defrosted and ready for munching.
If you're the kind of person who likes some chocolate in their granola bars, throw in some chocolate chips, or melt some nice dark chocolate with a tsp of oil and dip or drizzle it all over the bars. Let cool until the chocolate is hard, and wrap!
I'm just adding this bit in, for anyone who is finding themselves without a can of condensed milk, or find it's too pricey in their part of the world. Thanks to Legomum for suggesting it! Now fair warning, I haven't tried this method out yet, but it makes sense to me!
Home Made Condensed Milk Substitute
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons instant dry milk
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
Combine sugar and dry milk. Add warm water and mix well. Warm the milk in the top of a double boiler (a metal mixing bowl can be placed over boiling water in a medium saucepan for this purpose). Stir mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
Refrigerate or allow to cool for 15 minutes before using. Keeps for 2-3 days in refrigerator.
Healthy Granola Bars
Yield: 12 bars
Time: 15 mins. prep, 1 hour bake
Cost: <$10 or approx. 0.60 cents per bar
- medium sized pot
- baking sheet
- parchment paper
- wooden spoon
- 8x8 inch square cake pan, greased and lined with parchment paper
- 1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup nuts
- 1 cup dried fruit
1 cup chopped chocolate
1 tsp oil
Combine + melt for dipping or drizzling over bars.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread out oats and nuts (but not the fruit!) on a cookie sheet.
Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning the oats around the edges. As soon as it's turning a bit brown and you can smell the toasty nuts, it's done. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the condensed milk until the consistency is runny. Add in any spices + salt.
Add all of the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly mix and evenly distribute all ingredients.
Pour the mixture into a 8x8 inch parchment lined baking pan and and flatten with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
Bake for about an hour @ 300 degrees until the mixture looks dry and is not sticky to the touch. It should be just barely starting to brown.
Step 1: Toasty Oats
Preheat oven to 350F (150C).
Spread out oats, coconut and nuts out on a cookie sheet in an even layer.
Don't include any of the fruit, it will just burn!
Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning the oats around the edges. As soon as the coconut is brown and you can smell the toasty nuts, it's done.
Step 2: Fruit Combination Taste Sensation
Chop your dried fruits into small pieces, and combine them. Here Ive made a mix of sour cherries, strawberries and sun dried apricots.
I like to buy the fruits and nuts for this recipe at a bulk food store, or in the bulk aisle of the grocery store. That way I can get just what I need. Be careful, dried cherries and strawberries and run you around $6/100g which is pretty pricey. But if you consider that 100g of dried strawberries is equal to about a pint of fresh strawberries it doesnt seem quite so crazy.
Less expensive dried fruits are raisins, cranberries and apricots. Dried apricots are also very high in iron, so I always like to throw those in.
Less expensive nuts are whole unsalted almonds, or peanuts.
- Cashew + Dried Cherry + Cardamom
- Pistachio + Dried Apricot + White Chocolate Chips
- Peanut + Dried Strawberries + 4 tbsp Peanut Butter
(melt the PB in with the condensed milk. It tastes like PB&J and the strawberries taste like gummy candies!)
- Dried Apple + Raisin + Cinnamon
(tastes like my favourite little packets of Quaker oatmeal)
- Smarties + Honey Roasted Peanuts + Crushed BBQ Fritos
- Almond + Dried Cranberry + 70% Dark Chocolate
Or just buy 2 cups of trail mix and toss it in! It'll be great!
Step 3: Mix & Bake
In a large saucepan, heat the condensed milk until the consistency is runny. You're not cooking it, just warming it up so folding in the dry ingredients will be easier.
Add any spices like cinnamon or cardamom you would like and stir it into the condensed milk now, that way it will be evenly distributed.
Add all of the dry ingredients, including your chopped dried fruit, and stir to thoroughly mix and evenly distribute all ingredients.
Spoon the mixture into a 8x8 inch parchment lined square cake pan.
Flatten down the mix. If you don't flatten down the mix very well, your granola bars will fall apart more easily. I like to place a sheet of parchment or wax paper over the mix and flatten it down well with my hand or using the flat bottom of a glass. That way your hands don't get all sticky.
Bake for about an hour @ 300 degrees until the mixture looks dry and is only slightly sticky to the touch. It should be just barely starting to brown.
Step 4: Finish!
When your granola bars have cooled, invert pan over a cutting board and peel off parchment paper.
Slice into 12 bars.
If you cut your bars before they are fully cooled they could be a bit crumbly, but you can just press them back into bar shape with reasonable success.
At this point you can keep them in an airtight container for about a week.
I like to wrap mine individually in cling wrap and freeze. In the freezer they are good for over 6 months.
If you're the kind of person who likes a chocolate dipped granola bar, here's how:
Chocolate Dip'n Drizzle
1 cup good quality white or dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp oil (anything but olive oil)
Melt in a microwave, 20 seconds at a time, stirring often, until melted.
Dip each bar and place on a sheet of parchment or wax paper until cool and hardened.