Homemade Pretty Healthy Granola Bars That Also Taste Good

As most parents know, schools these days are peanut-free. Not like when I was a kid and I took a peanut butter and jam sandwich to school pretty much every single day. For 15 years. Now each night I struggle to come up with something that is nutritious, not boring, and not processed. It’s not just the ‘main course’ that’s a problem, but the snacks too. I used to buy granola bars because they are labelled peanut-free, and then I decided to take a closer look at the ingredients list. Palm kernel oil, corn syrup, things I cannot pronounce, etcetera – a cause for concern.
I have tried to make homemade granola bars in the past and they didn’t turn out well at all. They fell apart and just didn’t taste that great. I never let a recipe-gone-bust deter me from trying again though, so last night I found myself toasting some oatmeal in the oven while my big guy finished his homework.
I found an interesting-sounding recipe on line on a blog called Butter Crumbs, but it was full of nuts and nut butters so I had to adapt (what else is new?).
Here is my adaptation, with notes and advice for future attempts.
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup oat bran
1/3 cup wheat germ
½ cup honey/maple syrup mix
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup bran cereal
¼ cup olive oil
4 quick grinds of salt (about ¼ tsp)
2/3 cup chocolate chips
Place the oats, oat bran and wheat germ on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven. Toast the ingredients for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool.

Meanwhile, while the oats are toasting, mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl.
Once the oats are cool, add them as well. Stir really well ensuring you coat all the dry with the wet ingredients.
Note: I didn’t let the oat mixture cool and when I added the warm oats to the rest of the ingredients, the chocolate chips melted. This is not necessarily a bad thing but if you want to see the chocolate chips intact in your granola bar, then let the oat mixture cool before adding it to the bowl of other ingredients.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour the mixture onto the sheet. You then need to use something with a straight edge to shape the mound of oats into a rectangle shape. I used a large cleaver but you could also try a ruler. Your oats should be flattened to about ¼ – ½ inch thick. You can use a spatula to do this. If it is sticky, try spraying the spatula with a touch of cooking spray first (or brush with olive oil).
Once the shape is right, place the tray in the oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. I baked mine for 14 minutes and they were a bit overdone. 10 minutes will give you a chewy bar, 12 minutes will give you something more crunchy.
Lift the parchment paper off of the hot cookie try to help the granola cool. While the oats are still warm, cut the rectangle into 16 bars.
If you follow this recipe exactly, each bar is 5 Weight Watchers points (for the Points Plus system). If you want to make these and cut back on the points, you can cut the chocolate chips in half, cut out the sunflower seeds, or replace the chocolate chips with raisins or dried cranberries.
If you don’t have to worry about being nut-free, you can replace the oil with peanut butter or almond butter. You can also add any kind of nut that you want to. 
Enjoy! And tell me about your variations – I’d love to hear all about them.

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