My kids love granola bars and I love the convenience of quick, grab-and-go snacks. On a busy morning or for a light snack at any time throughout the day, prepackaged granola bars are an easy choice.
But there’s one problem: Granola bars are really pretty bad for you.
In spite of their reputation as a health food, most granola bars contain more artificial ingredients and preservatives than they do real food. In fact, some nutritionists actually consider granola bars one of the worst snacks parents can give their children because they generally contain very few natural ingredients and the fact they are perceived as “healthy” leads many moms and dads to let their kids eat far more of them than they might otherwise.
Bad, BAD idea, moms. And don’t be fooled by all-natural or organic labeling either. I’ve been disappointed to learn that many of the pricey nutrition and protein bars sold in the natural foods section are only slightly better for you, if at all.
I’ve tried making homemade granola bars, but I’ve never been thrilled with the results. The bars I’ve made in the past are either mostly flavorless or very peanut-buttery, (neither of which appeals to me much,) or they’re so crumbly they make an awful mess.
But granola cookies?? Maybe that’s where I’ve been making my mistake all along! Cookies are bound to be better than bars. I found this recipe in an old magazine, did a little tweaking to suit my fancy, and oh my goodness did they ever turn out good! Soft, chewy, DELICIOUS cookies that put to shame every granola bar I’ve ever tasted. Even my picky, if-it-doesn’t-look-right-I-won’t-eat-it child loves these.
Now the ingredient list is a little lengthy, but these cookies aren’t hard to make at all. At the end I’ll give you some ideas for different flavor variations.
1/4 cup + 3 T. honey 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs 1/4 pecans, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/4 granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder 1/4 roasted, lightly-salted, no-shell
1/4 tsp. salt sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups uncooked regular oats 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberriesPreheat oven to 350. Melt your butter and allow it to cool to a lukewarm temperature. Whisk together melted butter, honey, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture, a little at a time, stirring just until combined. (Don’t overmix, which will make your cookies heavy and less tender.) Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes or until very lightly browned at the edges. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes: About 4 1/2 dozen.
Personally, I think cranberries are wonderful combined with white chocolate and almonds, but I’m sure caramel or butterscotch chips combined with cashews and apricots would be fabulous! Mix it up to suit your taste or to give you some variety. You can freeze the dough for up to 3 months or freeze the baked cookies in freezer bags for about a month.
These cookies make a great quick breakfast or an easy, healthy snack. The original recipe above produces cookies that are about 80 calories each, which isn’t bad compared to most granola bars, and they are very filling. Plus I know they’re full of real foods and not a lot of preservatives and fillers I can’t pronounce.
So have a good and mostly-guiltless cookie for breakfast in the morning!