Chewy Almond Granola Bars

Chewy Almond Granola Bars  Is January 20th too late to make a New Year’s resolution? Does it not count because technically we are almost a month into the new year? Am I in violation of some sort of unwritten resolution set of rules? Well I don’t care- I am doing it anyway. Right here and right now I’m declaring that my new year’s resolution is to eat less sugar. There I said it…and now I have to follow through with it. That’s the problem with resolutions, and the reason why I don’t usually make them. It’s easy enough to make a resolution, and to tell people about it, but actually committing to it, for a whole year- yikes!
The funny thing about this resolution is that I don’t have a what I would call a “problem” with sugar. By this I mean that I am not the type of person who scarfs down a whole box of cookies or polishes off an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s (I am more a whole bag of chips kind of girl- maybe I’ll tackle that one next year). Recently though I’ve become aware of all the hidden sugar that’s in the things I eat everyday. I’m talking about things that I wouldn’t normally think of as high sugar foods. Things like bread, yogurt, granola bars, crackers and pasta sauce. All these things have added sugar and some have quite a bit…twenty- two grams of sugar in one cup of French vanilla yogurt! I decided that if I really want to cut down on the hidden sugar in my diet I needed to make some changes. Chewy Almond Granola Bars
Some are easy- buy plain yogurt and add my own fruit with a tiny drop of honey, look for a bread and pasta sauce with lower amounts of sugar. The granola bars though, that was a bit harder. I’ve found that in general the kinds with less sugar tend to be dry and tasteless. I want a low-sugar chewy granola bar that doesn’t taste like sandpaper in my mouth and doesn’t fall apart and leave half behind in its little wrapper. Sounds simple right? Apparently not because I just can’t find them. So I made my own. Granola bars are actually quite easy to make. The best part is that you can customize them to your individual taste preferences. I’m giving you a recipe to follow, but please feel free to just use it as a guide. You can mix it up with different nuts or dried fruit, or even substitute the almond butter with peanut butter. Just remember to look for unsweetened dried fruit and unsalted, unroasted nuts. Oh, and please don’t use the almond or peanut butter that has added sugar and oil! I will never understand this- why does a ground up nut paste need oil added to it?

Here are the main ingredients that I used in my bars.

Granola bars consist of three separate parts. First you have the dry mix of oats, nuts and seeds. These are mixed together on a baking sheet and toasted in the oven.

Next you have dried fruit. I used a mix of cranberries and apricots because that’s what I like, but the possibilities are endless. Pineapple, mango, papaya, apple rings, raisins…you get the idea. Finally you have the glue that holds it all together. This is where the sugar part comes in. The original recipe that I used called for 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar. At first glance this doesn’t sound too bad. I mean there’s no refined white sugar so it’s okay right? Well I am no dietician but sugar is sugar and this amount means that each granola bar contains 15 grams of the sweet stuff. That seems like a lot considering that the Nature Valley fruit and nut bars that I buy only have 13 grams per bar. I knew I could do better. I didn’t want to just cut the amount of honey in half though because I was afraid of messing with the dry versus wet ingredient ratio and ending up with crumbly bars instead of chewy ones. So I decided that the best solution was to substitute the honey for agave nectar. Yes, I know that there has been some controversy lately over this product and whether it really is a healthy alternative to sugar or instead an evil twin of high fructose corn syrup in disguise. I’m not going to get into the whole debate here because it could take all day, and besides I only know what Google tells me so you might as well look it up on your own. In the end, my take on it is that agave syrup has a much sweeter flavor than most sugars so you can use less of it which is always a good thing in my book. I ended up using 1/4 cup of agave syrup and cutting out the turbinado sugar altogether. After doing a bit of math (gulp) I figured out that my new and improved granola bar only contains 8 grams of sugar per bar. Not bad. The three parts are mixed together and pressed into a square baking dish (a straight sided one is best, but if you’re like me and only have a glass square dish with rounded corners it’s okay. You will just end up with some bars with rounded edges- no big deal). Chill the whole thing in the fridge for about half an hour and then take them out and slice into bars. Chewy Almond Granola Bars
There you have it.  A reduced sugar granola bar and my first step toward fulfilling my resolution. That wasn’t so bad- now I just have to keep it up for the next 11 months and 11 days.

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  • Love this recipe and your photos! Really nice work!

  • For the kiddos I might add some dark chocolate chips, okay and for me too!!

    • That sounds like a yummy addition Gretchen!

  • o my I love those granola bars…probably need to use dried cranberries instead. They look fabulous!

  • The look so delicious!

  • Hello, Amanda! I just found your blog through a comment you left at ‘Liv Life.’ I grew up in Vermont, so when I saw in your comment that you’re from Vermont, I had to stop on over to say hi. I live in North Carolina now, but lived in VT until I was 25. Love your blog!

    • Thanks for stopping by Tracy! I bet it’s warmer in North Carolina right now than it is in VT 🙂

  • These look fantastic! I can’t believe you got them chewy with so little sweetener. I tried so many healthy chewy granola recipes last year, but none of them were chewy. I’m going to try these this week with lots of orange zest and dried cranberries. And maybe some white chocolate in a few of them because I can’t help it. Or just a drizzle! That would certainly be healthier. White chocolate just belongs with orange and cranberries.

    I’d also love to eat less sugar but it’s so extremely difficult. But I’m doing one thing differently. I’ve decided to use less of the really unhealthy peanut butter (which I admit to loving) and use the natural stuff. But it just doesn’t taste the same! Today I made homemade peanut butter cups but I kept thinking, “These would be SO much better with the commercial stuff.” But at the end of the day, I’m happy I went with natural. I don’t feel as guilty.

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll let you know how they come out. 🙂

  • I too was surprised that they turned out chewy Erin. I thought I would have to make batch after batch to get ones that didn’t fall apart. I think the agave syrup added just the right amount of stickiness. Also, I upped the amount of dried fruit that the original recipe from Eating Well called for and that might have helped increase the chewy factor. Hope you like them!

  • YAY! I finally have a granola bar recipe!

    They’re definitely chewy. And perfect. We only have sweetened cranberries here so next time I’ll have to reduce the agave. Or maybe that’ll mess with the chewiness so I’ll see about ordering some unsweetened cranberries online.

    I left out the dried apricots just because I didn’t realize I was out and I used more almonds instead of sunflower seeds. And next time, I’ll definitely chill them for 30 minutes like you said. I was so excited and wanted to cut them after 10 minutes and they were still too soft and so I broke a lot of them. So everyone else should follow the directions. 🙂

    I’m definitely going to post about these! I just have to take some pictures first. And I forgot to say that my husband likes them although he’s hated all previous granola attempts, and there have been a lot of them. Thank you so much.

    • You’re very welcome! So glad they came out good for you- and that your husband liked them. It’s definitely hard to find unsweetened dried cranberries. Instead of reducing the agave (and in in turn reducing the sticky liquid) you could substitute in the same amount of brown rice syrup which tends to be on the less sweet side. Can’t wait to see your post about them 🙂

      • That’s a fantastic idea! I have some brown rice syrup just sitting around and nothing to do with it. I got some decent pictures today so I’ll definitely be posting them! Maybe in a week or two. And the husband likes them so much (although he really dislikes cranberries) he’s requested a cinnamon raisin version. Oooh, I wonder if a peanut butter version would work with peanut butter instead of almond butter. Probably not, but I’ll try it anyway. 🙂

  • I just posted about these. Thanks again for the recipe! They’re delicious. 🙂

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