These 7 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 7 of my favorites, including a few oat-free options for people who cannot consume oats or grains.
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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.
I’m downright obsessed with this brand's bars. They taste absolutely delicious while sneaking in veggies like spinach, broccoli, and shitake mushrooms. (Trust me, you won’t even know they’re there.) These bars contain stellar ingredients and are also USDA certified organic, certified gluten-free and vegan, non-GMO project verified, and contain no common allergens—including soy, dairy, wheat, nuts, and eggs. They come in six flavors, including chocolate chip, mixed berry, and sweet and salty. They also sell mini granola bites packed in single-serving bags. The small, light bars are perfect just before exercise, or even during an activity, like a long bike ride.
These traditional-style granola bars come in three delightful flavors: cherry dark chocolate and almond; chocolate banana; and date, pecan, and coconut. They’re USD certified organic, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO project verified. The ingredients are simple and wholesome, like a throwback to your grandma’s recipe. They do contain butter, however, so FYI: They’re not appropriate for vegans or those who must avoid dairy.
Bobo’s bars are like mini bricks of tasty fuel. More dense that a typical granola bar, they pack over 50 grams of carbs per full bar. (Note: a serving size is half the bar.) They’re perfect before an extended activity, such as hiking or skiing. If you’re looking for the same simple ingredients and energy boost without as many carbs, Bobo’s also makes bites in select flavors that provide half the carb content per serving. The traditional bars come in a wide range of flavors, including lemon poppy seed, gingerbread, and pumpkin spice.
The sprouted ingredients in Go Raw make them unique. Sprouting is a process that improves the digestibility of seeds, so their nutrients are more readily available. The five Go Raw sprouted bars are grain-free, minimally processed, and made with simple, whole-food ingredients. The apricot flaxseed bar contains just sprouted flaxseed, lime juice, and organic apricots, raisins, and dates. A bit higher in fiber with 6 grams (of the 29 total carbs per bar), they also provide 6 grams of healthful fat and 4 grams of plant protein.
As a fan of Purely Elizabeth granola, I was thrilled to see the introduction of four gluten-free, oat-based granola bars. The original ancient grain bar is certified vegan and gluten-free, as well as non-GMO project verified. It contains simply oats, coconut sugar, raw virgin coconut oil, sunflower seeds, puffed amaranth, quinoa flakes, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt. With 20 grams of carbs, including a few grams of fiber, along with 6 grams of good-for-you fat and 3 grams of protein, this bar is a smart pre-activity snack. Four grain-free options are also available.
Bob's Red Mill
This powerhouse brand makes myriad wholesome goodies, including whole-grain and nut flours, cereal, pulses, and seeds. Now, they’ve added granola bars to the lineup. The apple spice version is made with peanuts, organic tapioca syrup, whole grain oats, organic honey, dried apples, cinnamon, rosemary extract, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Unfortunately, all five flavors contain peanuts, which is one of the "big 8" most common allergens. But if you’re a peanut fan, you’ll love these bars, which provide a nice macro balance with 7 grams of plant protein, 8 grams of healthful fat, and 28 grams of carbs with 3 grams from fiber. Grab one as a snack between meals, or as a light breakfast option paired with a green juice.
Another oat- and grain-free option on the list, these bars are flavorful, moist, and filling. The ginger flavor is made with organic cashews, organic almonds, organic honey, organic unsweetened coconut, organic vanilla, sea salt, and organic ginger. This higher-fat option, at 17 grams of fat per bar, also provides 17 grams of carbs, with 3 grams as fiber, and 6 grams of plant protein. It makes a satiating snack to get through a longer stretch between meals, or can be used as an on-the-go breakfast option.