Easy Healthy Granola Bars

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About: Professional maker and eater of food. Donuts.. Cheese.. Chocolate.. Beer.. these are a few of my favourite things! @karakabangpow

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!

**Update**

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

Hardware:

- medium sized pot
- baking sheet
- parchment paper
- wooden spoon
- 8x8 inch square cake pan, greased and lined with parchment paper

Software:

- 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

Optional:
1 cup chopped chocolate
1 tsp oil

Combine + melt for dipping or drizzling over bars.

Instructions:

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.

Set aside.

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.


Favourite Combinations:

- 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
(amazeballs)

- 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.


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    43 Discussions

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    I tried making these and they're delicious (I love the dried cranberries, but they're so expensive)! It'd be great to take a batch to a party, but some of my friends are vegan. Do you know of a good substitute for the sweetened condensed milk? I've read online and one option seems to be sweetened cream of coconut. Do you know if this would work in the same way, or do you think they'd all fall apart? Or do you know of any alternatives?

    5 replies

    That is interesting! I'm thinking.. maybe cream of coconut, because it's very thick has a higher fat content, with a little bit of honey for stickiness.. could probably work great. I'm going to try that out actually, I'm really interested in Vegan substitutes

    I've had a look in all my local stores and I can't find any, so I'm gonna try making my own out of coconut milk. I've had a look and it seems that 2 cans of coconut milk and half a cup of sugar is the standard recipe (roughly the same as making your own condensed milk it seems).

    I tried it, and it worked perfectly! They still have that great chewy texture, and the coconut taste isn't at all over powering (I've been using chopped almonds instead of shredded coconut because I don't like the texture). And this way you know exactly how much sugar you're putting in. The only downside is it takes quite a while to reduce (I reduced it to about a third of it's initial volume in about an hour and a half).

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    iamamomof5

    6 years ago on Introduction

    These were great. I made them to send to school with a couple of my kids. This is the first recipe in which the bars did not crumble and fall into our laps. Even my son who does not like coconut loved them..I did not tell him about the coconut, and he did not notice. I think I'll keep that secret.

    1 reply
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    MarieW72

    Question 10 months ago

    Does anybody know what the calorie count on these are ,

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    I have made a version of this for years. To one can, I use 7 cups, total, of any combination of pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats - all toasted. These bars keep forever.

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    mystico

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I made these as the first of many weekend experiments to improve my 11-year-old daughter's eating habits. Everyone else in the house (my wife, my MIL, and me) loved them! The daughter, not so much. I think I just need to tweak the recipe though, as she just doesn't like raisins. So next time it will be all nuts and seeds and no dried fruit. This recipe is a huge success though and will become a staple in my household. Quick and easy!

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    Roessboss

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I made this one with peanut better, ginger, cinamon, and a little bit of flax seed. I like this one.

    1 reply
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    july1962

    6 years ago on Introduction

    These do look good, but for those doing Weight Watchers, each bar is 9 points as written. If you use unsweetened evaporated milk instead of the sweetened, it drops to 7 points. Changing coconut to oats, keeps it the same. Leaving out the chocolate makes it 5 points.

    2 replies
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    karalalalajuly1962

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Switch the coconut out for oats, use a lower fat nut such as almond instead of something like a cashew, skip the chocolate and use unsweetened condensed milk. It will be healthier.. but not quite as delicious.

    I know this is late but I just saw this ad it looks awesome.

    As far as your suggestions remember that most/all the fat in most nuts is quite healthy. Also if you use coconut sugar which IS rather expensive(you can find it on Amazon for about $4 a pound if you buy several 1 pound packs) but worth it if you are worried about carbs for any reason, such as diabetics and pre-diabetics. Coconut sugar, while technically the same carbs as regular sugar has an absolutely amazing amount of nutrients compared to regular sugar and actually helps stabilize insulin levels, preventing the spikes that all carbs cause(whole grains just cause less than refined carbs, do but still a lot more than fats and protein)
    So if you use the unsweetened condensed milk and sweeten with coconut sugar your insulin levels will remain much lower, which helps keep you from getting the munchies later. However I believe WW will still count it as all the same carbs, which is a shame.

    Also coconut sugar tastes a lot like light brown sugar with a hint of caramel. So it will taste different, but be much healthier in every way.

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    Sparkytastic

    5 years ago on Introduction

    My wife and I just made these last night. The recipe comes out great!
    Great 'ible!

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    kizz246

    6 years ago on Introduction

    It looks great! I will definitely try these out, but I have one question first. What size was the can of sweetened condensed milk you used? I think they're about 300 mL (10 oz) in Canada but vary elsewhere.

    1 reply