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.

By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
September 16, 2020

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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