Limit Food Packaging – Make Your Granola Bars

Sometimes saying words out loud and not in your head gives them more merit or purpose – for me anyway. Talking with a friend today I was reminded of something that will help you make healthier shopping choices with meal planning for back to school. We know that what isn’t good for the environment is also bad for human health right? Well anything you buy that gives you convenience is also not the best for human health. Think back among the years of materials that have bought us time and convenience: telfon, non-stick, plastic, drive-thrus, etc. What first appeared (and was marketed) as an amazing time saver has become toxic for our families! This is why so many green bloggers are talking about packing litterless lunches with back-to-school. Not just because many of the litterless lunch systems are made from stainless steel, but it encourages parents to limit packaging surrounding children’s food which very quickly improves the quality of the nutrition, etc.

What are the biggest toxies I can think of? The two biggest culprits that come to mind are string cheese and yogurt tubes. Why? They have been packed into a bendy plastic that is loaded with plasticizers that are leaching into the food. These items are long gone in our fridge but with our busy schedule during the school year, I’m guilty of always having granola bars for my kids to snack on. Granola bar wrappers are not recyclable or compostable and this can be a red flag about the food inside the wrapper. Most granola bars are loaded with sugar, soy, artificial flavours/colors and contain preservatives so they can last on store shelves. I’ve been playing with different granola bar recipes over the summer and finally have a recipe that my kids LOVE. The homemade granola bars, unlike store bought are nut-free so appropriate to bring into schools with allergies and are more like a powerbar, packed with whole foods that are filling & heavy making them the perfect snack. My thanks to the site allrecipies.com for the original recipe and I’ve incorporated some changes and love the results. I noticed in the comments that some parents even remove the 1 egg so it could be further modified to be sensitive to more allergies if necessary.

I now double the recipe every Sunday and the bars usually last until Thursday in this house. I plan to double this batch and make banana bread on Sundays each week to minimize feeling the need to buy store bought snacks. The fact that my very fussy 1st born loves these granola bars so much is very gratifying. It’s funny because my 2nd son was helping me make the bars and noticed me adding apple sauce. First thing he says to me is “don’t let Francesco see what you’re putting in these” since he knows his brother so well. It’s easier to trick even the fussiest of eaters with the different modifications and here’s how!

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use half and half with whole wheat flour and all-purpose)
3/4 cup raisins (optional) (I use chocolate chips)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup apple sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, chocolate chips and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil, vanilla, and apple sauce. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

I cut into square and leave in an air tight container on my counter. These bars are gone in days and fit into any size lunch container for lunch packing. Buy these ingredients in bulk if you don’t already have them – you’ll be making them a lot!

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21 Responses to Limit Food Packaging – Make Your Granola Bars

  1. Ada Mangoes August 25, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    Beth Terry linked this post from her Plastic-Free Life page on Facebook and I am so glad I clicked over! We spent ~$10 on granola bar products when we went grocery shopping at Aldi not long ago and just between my husband and myself, those are almost gone. I hadn’t had the time yet to look up how to DIY some granola bars yet, but after making appropriate substitutions for the wheat-based items in the ingredients list, I will be making these this weekend. Thanks! Now I’m gonna go peruse the rest of your blog.

  2. suzanne August 25, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Thank you for the comment Ada! Let us know how the bars go and welcome to the world of Mommy Footprint. =)

  3. Ada Mangoes August 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    I made them tonight with a dried fruit and nut mix instead of raisins (just moved and couldn’t find the raisins) and milled flax seed and corn masa instead of the wheat germ and flour. I also couldn’t find our honey so ended up subbing sorghum molasses for that. They are amazing! Chewy in the center and just sweet enough.

  4. Debbie August 28, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Thank you for the recipe. We have county fair starting tomorrow and I always buy granola bars for a treat. I will make them today. Thanks.

  5. Laura September 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    So how do you buy cheese so that it doesn’t come in plastic? Obviously blocks of cheese have less, but the plastic is still there. My boys love string cheese and I would be happy to hear of an alternative for that. Cheese is especially important for them, since neither are milk drinkers.

  6. suzanne September 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    Hi Laura – I buy the brick of cheese in plastic and then replace the plastic with beeswax cotton wraps. I cut the cheese off the block to pack for lunches or snacks. ~Suzanne

  7. Robin September 3, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Do these bars stay chewy for a few days? My kids love homemade granola bars on the first day, but by about day 2-3 the bars are usually crunchy instead of soft and they won’t eat them. This is a problem for me as then I end up eating the whole batch myself!

  8. suzanne September 3, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    These stay pretty moist but I keep them out of the fridge in an air tight container. I double the batch and am finding they don’t last more than 4 days here! ~Suzanne

  9. Marge September 5, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Thanks for the recipe! Can I substitute honey for maple syrup? Also, can I use some or all quinoa or coconut flour? Thanks!

  10. suzanne September 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi Marge! Honey is already an ingredient and I say yes – play with the flour. The most important part of these bars is they are really ‘wet’ in texture before going into the greased pan so just add extra apple sauce if need be after substituting the quinoa or coconut flour. ~Suzanne ps – and post back how it works please! =)

  11. Crunchy Mama October 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    I like the beeswax cotton wrap idea, but I think I’m going to try to save a few dollars and make them ourselves. We just bought a block of beeswax, and we’re making everything from moisturizer to the waxed leaves you recently posted to dipped Maple leaf roses. Have you made the wraps before, Suzanne? Anyone else?

  12. Jenna January 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    My family really enjoys this recipe! I am so glad I found it. I had been trying to make some healthier snacks for my son to take to school and this is perfect. He loves it (and even asks for it over cookies) and he is a picky eater so I’m glad to get some whole grains into him. My husband has also requested me to make them the past two weeks since I gave it a try.

    Thanks so much for this!

  13. suzanne January 21, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    Thank you for the comment and hooray! If you want to add more nutrients to the granola bars – you can ‘hide’ chia and hemp easily if you add a heaping tablespoon. I’ve done this to the last couple of batches and nobody has said a thing. Enjoy and good for you … these bars cost a lot extra but the health value is worth every penny! Suzanne

  14. Kate April 1, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    Hi, these certainly sound tasty and good as an occasional treat, however it’s such a shame that they’re so absolutely packed with sugar. In fact, with approximately 2 & 1/4 cups of sugar (brown, honey, applesauce, raisins, which all convert the same way in the body) to 2 cups of oats, I’d be surprised if they didn’t have a higher sugar content than a lot of commercial bars. These are basically just cookies in bar form, which is fine, but some people will make them for their children not realising that they are only a “sometimes food”. It seriously frustrates me how impossible it is to find “healthy recipes” for kids that are actually truly healthy.

  15. suzanne April 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    Hi Kate – I guess it depends how far along you are on the journey to clean food. Kids eat granola bars everyday at school – these homemade bars are healthier than store bought. You could easily 1/2 the amount of sugar, honey and eliminate the chocolate chips. Get creative with recipes and alter to your own idea of what ‘enough sugar’ or ‘healthy recipes’ are. We are all at different stages of the real food journey.

  16. J September 6, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    I just want to point out that these are far healthier than store bought granola bars. One just has to look at the ingredients list on a box of Quaker granola bars to know that! I didn’t add all of the sugar but kept in the chocolate chips. I’m hoping the kids love them! Thx!

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