Credit: Alex Sandoval

These 6 granola bars are actually healthy and are sold online. Want to make your own? Try this granola bar recipe from a nutritionist here.

When you think of granola bars, outdoor activities such as hiking and camping probably come to mind. That’s appropriate, because the primary ingredient in a granola bar is oats—a whole grain that provides slow-burning fuel. Those oats are typically held together with a sweetener, often honey, maple syrup, or a sticky fruit, such as dates or banana. It’s these nutrient-rich, whole-food ingredients that make classic granola bars healthy.

To whip up an easy no-bake version at home, follow a few simple steps. Soak four pitted dates in two tablespoons of very warm water. After 15 minutes, drain the water from the dates. In a mini food processor, blend the soaked dates with a quarter cup of unsweetened almond butter, one tablespoon of pure maple syrup, and a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and fold in a half cup of old-fashioned rolled oats plus one additional tablespoon of maple syrup.

This is your granola foundation. Sprinkle in any healthful add-ins you like, such as chopped nuts; dried cherries; chocolate chunks; or chia, pumpkin, or sesame seeds. Using your hands, combine the batter to make one round, uniform ball. To make bite-size granola balls, pinch off quarter-size pieces of the mixture and roll them between your palms to form even, round balls. Store in a sealable glass container lined with parchment paper (makes about 16 balls). 

If you don’t have the time or desire to make granola bars or balls yourself, look for store-bought versions with similar simple, recognizable ingredients. Here are 6 of my favorites, including a few oat-free options for people who cannot consume oats or grains.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health's contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a nutrition consultant for the New York Yankees.

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