Healthy, Homemade Granola Bars (pssst… they’re Sugar-Free!)

Quick announcement: Healthy Indulgences now has a Twitter indulgehealthy (add me, er… follow me?) 

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These are not your typical granola bars. What’s so special about ‘em? Look closely…

Healthy, Homemade Granola Bars

You don’t see any oats, do you? Or sugar. I know you can’t see there’s no sugar, but I promise you it’s not there (okay, so there’s 1 tiny teaspoon of honey in the whole recipe!). Low carbers and gluten-free eaters, take heart. These snack bars are sure to satisfy your craving for this formerly forbidden treat.


What’s so tempting about granola, and why might it not be the healthiest snack? For starters, it tastes like candy! Looking at the label, it’s easy to see why. Granola is chock full of honey (sugar), brown sugar (sugar), crisp rice (starch), dried fruit (sugar), oats (starch) and canola oil (fat). Granola bars are carbs, carbs, and more carbs, glued together with processed fat. Sounds like a recipe for a high-GI junk food, doesn’t it?

And yet, granola bars are touted as “all natural” and full of “whole grains,” so we feel less guilty reaching for one of these innocent treats versus a candy bar. Interestingly enough, per gram, a Snickers bar has 3 less grams of sugar than those Nature Valley granola bars in the vending machines! At least the Snickers has peanuts and cocoa butter, for some protein and healthful saturated fat. While neither of these are great snack choices, it makes you think, doesn’t it?


Oats (certified gluten-free, if you’re gluten intolerant) are not inherently unhealthy. I even use a little oat flour in low carb pancakes and pie crust for structure and chew. It’s just that eating a whole bowl of oatmeal for breakfast might not be the best for weight loss, unless you’re going for a morning run.


The granola bars you see below and at the top of this post are made from nuts, seeds, and other wholesome ingredients. This recipe is super flexible. Just use what you have on hand! You could make these paleo friendly by nixing the xylitol, and adding a bit more honey. Most importantly, they won’t give you that fat-storing blood sugar surge. And yes, they still taste like candy.

A little chewy and a little crunchy, these bars taste just as good as the store bought kind.
Natural, Sugar-Free Granola Bars


Healthy Granola Bars (Low Carb, Gluten-and Grain-Free)

Makes 4 bars

Ingredients:

Wet Mix:
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon xylitol
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Mix:
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon pepitas
1 Tablespoon finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 Tablespoon cacao nibs (can replace with more nuts/seeds/etc)
1 teaspoon flax seed meal
2 Tablespoons coconut milk powder (available at Asian grocery stores)
1/16 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/16 teaspoon sea salt
1/16 teaspoon NuNaturals pure white stevia extract

Preparation:

Use a small to medium sized food processor for this. Add almonds and pecans to processor bowl, and pulse 8-10 times. You don’t want any large chunks visible. Add sunflower seeds, pepitas, coconut, cacao nibs, flax seed meal, coconut milk powder, xanthan gum, sea salt, and stevia. Replace lid, and pulse 3-5x, until pepitas have been chopped up a bit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (300 for convection ovens). Line the bottom of a 8 by 4″ loaf pan with a rectangle of parchment paper. Heat honey and xylitol in a small saucepan over medium heat until you see tiny bubbles forming in the honey mixture. It usually only takes a minute or two for the xylitol to dissolve. Wait one minute after xylitol has dissolved, then take honey mixture off heat and stir in vanilla with your silicone spatula. Quickly, scrape hot liquid from pan into dry mixture, and stir around vigorously with spatula until mixture is evenly coated. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of loaf pan with spatula. Bake for 10 minutes (7 minutes, 30 seconds in convection ovens). Remove bars from oven, let cool a couple minutes, and invert slab carefully on to cutting board. Cut into four pieces (across, and then across once more) with a sharp knife. Remold the corners as necessary if a few crumbs break off. Slide bars, bottom side up, on to metal pan. Bake for 9 more minutes (7 minutes for convection oven). Remove from oven, and place bars on cooling rack. Store in zip top bags in the refrigerator. Once the bars are completely cooled, they’ll hold together nicely.

~159 calories per bar
~5.5g net carbs per bar
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It feels so good to be finished with college! I having been baking up a storm, getting back into my creative cooking groove. Stay tuned for a barrage of summer treats comin’ at ya. Your requests have been very helpful in steering me towards new recipes to make over! Some informational “FAQ” posts requested by readers concerning sugar-free sweeteners (erythritol, xylitol and stevia, yay!) are also in the works.

The triumphant graduate, ready to face the world :)
Graduation Jubilation!

I have a question for y’all, concerning Twitter - How do you use Twitter for in your daily life (or for healthy cooking chatter)? Are you part of the craze? Let me know in the comments!
  • Haggus

    If you do nothing else, you've already left a mark on the world with this blog. Congrats!

  • Addy

    Hi lauren, i just wanted to let you know that you have inspired me as well as completly changed my views in what is considered "healthy" foods. Im 20 and ive been a vegetarian for 5 years, all the while consuming a good amount of carbohydrates. For some reason i was always intimidated a bit by the ingredients that you use for your recipes, but i finally got the courage and tried for the first time your ricotta chocolate homemade ice cream which i have to say suprised me with its identical taste to the real thing. Thanks a lot and congratulations on graduating, i look forward for the many wonderfull recipes to come :>
    Enjoy your vacation!
    Addy

  • Aaron

    Congrats on your graduation! Your recipes are awesome!

  • alissa

    yummy! i absolutely love your recipes – they always turn out well and satisfy my low carb needs :)

  • 44socksontheline

    Exciting to have a good granola bar recipe. Thank you! We already made grain-free granola cereal, but I didn't know how to translate into bars. Will definitely bookmark and try.

  • Lisa

    Congrats Lauren! This recipe looks great! I have truly appreciated your blog. Going very low carb has changed my life and your blog has been a huge cheerleader for me!

    Your gooey pumpkin butter cake is my husband's favorite. I make it as muffins and he has one every day as a snack after lunch! I made the carrot bites as minis yesterday and thought they were very good! Thank you again for your innovative ideas!

    Ice cream is NEXT!

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, Lauren!

    I too make a grain-free granola, but have never made it into a granola bar. This sounds really good!

    Re: Twitter — I don't use it.

  • Lauren

    Haggus – Thank you! It's great to hear that these recipes have done some good for people. :)

    Addy – It's wonderful to hear you've had such a change in your eating! I'm so happy you took the "leap of faith" and bought these funky ingredients to make my recipe. :D Thanks for the kind words!

    Aaron – :)

    Alissa, glad these recipes are giving you your low carb sweet fix!

    44socks – I'm off to check out YOUR granola recipe. It's so cool to see how others make it.

    Lisa – That pumpkin cake is good stuff – thanks for reminding me to make some. Happy your husband likes it! Hope the ice cream turns out well!

    Anon – Thank you! Haha, Twitter is interesting. People sure have a lot to say! ;)

  • Onyx Panthyr

    Congrats on your graduation, Lauren!

    I can't wait to try making these granola bars! I LOVE the Coconut Flour Pound Cake and I'm looking forward to more of your amazing recipes!!!

  • Caveman Home Companion

    I just found your blog via the Paleo Digest. Nice job!

  • Anonymous

    Do you think I could use a little stevia in place of the xylitol? I have it on hand! Thanks and congrats on your graduation.

  • Kaffee Beast

    So happy you're on Twitter. Yay! IMO, Twitter is best used as a diary (albeit, w 140 character entries). A glimpse every day into humor, challenges, insights, & failures makes the best stream. Use whatever level of private/public revelation makes you most comfortable. :)

  • Lauren

    Onyx Panther – Happy you had success with the coconut pound cake! Hope you try the bars. :)

    Caveman – Thanks for stopping by!

    Anon – Hmm, you might not want to increase the stevia if you think it will taste bitter. Feel free to experiment a bit with it – it only makes a small batch, so you won't waste much in terms of ingredients.

    Kaffee – Thank you for the advice re: Twitter! It's fun to be a part of it. See you on there!

  • Annie

    i think i'm in love. i am SO making these tomorrow!

    and CONGRATS on graduating!!!!!!

  • Suzi

    Congratulations!!! Love this recipe, I have all the ingredients to make this am except coconut milk powder. I'm going to sub nonfat dry milk, I guess due to my lack of patience!!! Thanks for the great recipes which help me stay lower carb!
    I use twitter, but not as religiously as, say, FB. It's a fun quick way to post pics and check out all sorts of topics.

  • Judy W

    You are a rising star and I cannot thank you enough for helping me change my diet and not be one bit deprived! Decadent goodness without sugar is a miracle to me! Please keep up the very important work you are doing for us who need to change the way we eat… Bless you
    Judy

  • Joan Mercantini

    Congrats on your graduation! Your recipes are fabulous!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10806922925705772836 Suzi

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Suzi

    These are absolutely delicious!!! I didnt' have coconut powder, though, so I subbed nonfat dry milk. I think this is why mine didn't stick together. It still made a great granola.
    Congratulations are in order!!!

  • Dawn

    Congrats on the graduation! I follow your blog, loving it, because I am eating lower carbs and no sugar, but I am a dessert fiend. LOVE love love that you are here, because I have three small boys and so not the time to do all the experimenting. When I want something I always come to your blog first to see if you have what I need. :) Sorry, I've been a lurker – I think this is my first comment… *looks sheepish*

    Anyway, as far as Twitter goes, I follow people – will follow you! Yay! – for dietary and health support – and check it while waiting for other things, kind of like I use Facebook.

  • millilann j

    congrats on graduating. love your blog

  • Mike PaleoVillage

    I wonder what they taste without the stevia.

    Congrats on the graduation!

  • Leslie

    What a delicious healthy recipe!! I love that there is no sugar in them!
    Oh and if you previously subscribed to my blog via an RSS feed. My feed address has changed. So if you have not been getting my current updates, you might want to re-subscribe.

  • Jennifer

    You look radiant as always, Lauren. Congratulations! Please keep an eye open for an important email from me.

  • Kim

    Great taste to this recipe! I am new to your blog and loving it. :)

    I attempted the granola bars and doubled the recipe. The granola is good but mine crumbled in each stage. Any suggestions?

  • Lauren

    Kim, I'll make them again – they held together well after they cooled fully for me. I did have to remold the corners after I carefully flipped them for the second baking. Will report back!

  • Kate

    Lauren, What can you substitute for honey? I stay away from sugar COMPLETELY so I don't want even natural sugar.
    Thanks!!
    ps- I'm in LOVE with your blog. I have been sugar free/grain free for 3 years now and am graduating with a Nutrition Degree next May :)
    Kate

  • stephanie

    made these yesterday and they are totally fabulous!!! i ate 1/2 the batch. and i'm not ashamed. ;)

    they did not hold the bar shape well and eventually broke into large chunks which is perfectly fine with me. even my husband who prefers a SAD loved them. these will now be a staple in our home.

    thanks lauren for another great recipe. you never fail to disappoint. looking forward to your revised "oatmeal."

  • Lauren

    Kate – Hi, Kate! The granola would work well with a tablespoon of erythritol. It wouldn't stick together like bars, though. Hope that helps!

    stephanie – Glad the granola worked out! I do like it better than the old granola recipe. :D Happy to hear your husband liked it, too! Thanks for reminding me about that oatmeal. There's quite the demand for it! I'll work on it after a couple more dessert (my weakness!) posts. ;)

  • Denise

    I've been searching forever for a low-carb granola bar recipe, and now I've finally got one. Thanks Lauren, and keep up the healthy recipes. I love your website, and look forward to what's next.

  • Manda

    VERY excited to try these! im considering adding a few sugar free chocolate chips;) chocolate chip granola bars were a big weakness of mine before going low carb;) these sound amazing!!

  • Judy W

    I have a question for you!
    I have been looking at the ingredients in sugar free honey (which would be great for granola bars!) and have discovered that the ingredients are:

    Xylitol, water, honey flavor, xanthan gum, citric acid, sorbic acid, caramel coloring.

    I found a place that sells concentrated honey flavoring here:

    https://www.lorannoils.com/c-6-super-strength-flavors.aspx

    I was wondering if you could perhaps try and create some sugar free honey??? I will try myself but you are such a wizard! I am trying to save money as well as stick it to the corporations! :)

    Thank you for all that you have done to change my life!
    Judy

  • Lauren

    Hello, Judy! Are the current xylitol-based sugar-free honeys being sold by companies very thick, like real honey? I was just wondering whether it is possible to come close to the thick and sticky consistency of the real thing!

  • Anonymous

    These are great! I quadrupled the recipe to share with family. I used a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. After cooking the first side & cooled a few minutes, I flipped it onto an even larger cookie sheet so it was kept intact. After cooling, they stayed intact. Very tasty & easy to make! I have more in the oven now. I'm going to try freezing some this time.

  • Anonymous

    Honey isn't good for those of us with glucose intolerance or diabetes. Just a little will send my blood sugar soaring and make me light-headed. I use Honey Tree's Sugar Free Honey instead. It's great! You can hardly tell the difference. I think I picked up my first bottle at Walmart.

    Here's a link for more information:
    http://www.honeytreehoney.com/specialty-sugarfree.html

  • Colette

    Well I tried two times and these bars just refuse to stay together for me. But they make a very tasty snack mix, the non-low carbing DH refers to it as bird mix but he still managed to eat it most of it before I did. Thanks for the recipe Lauren.

  • Kathy

    I need some good baking bread to make sandwiches or panini that is low in carb for a diabetic. any suggestions? The breads I have tried buying at the stores and online are horrible tasting:( I love your recipes they are amazing!!

  • Melissa Gehrke

    I substituted erythritol for the xylitol and pumpkin seeds for pepitas and didn’t have any coconut milk powder. Mine didn’t stick as bars but made a verrrry yummy granola! Thanks for the recipe!

  • masa

    hii :) i love these! but im wondering if i can skip few of the ingredients and still make it work…i’d skip xanthan gum as its not sold in my country and i’d also skip coconut milk powder (also not sold here :/ )

    would these still stick together and come out right?

    Also is it okay to skip stevia & xylitol too ( i don’t like too sweet stuff…i prefer just the nutty taste! :D )
    im just worried they wont stick together if i skip all of this… if not do you know any substitues for gum and milk powder?

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Hi, masa! The bars would probably not stick together with those modifications. This recipe appears to need a bit of tweaking, at any rate! Have a new granola bar recipe for August that might work better for your purposes, if you can sit tight. :)

      Hmm, if you mix a couple of tablespoons of honey with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, you should be able to get the bars to stick together without the sweeteners you listed. Using no sweetener it’ll be pretty tough to stick the granola together. Hope that helps!

  • Leo Campos Po

    niiiiicee
    xylitol?
    enjoy your diarrhea