I love these granola bars because they require very little prep time, no baking, and are packed with whole grains and protein. They are great as a snack or also good for breakfast along with some yogurt and fruit.
The oats are a great source of whole grains that help lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol, keeps blood sugars under control, and keep you fuller longer since it takes longer to digest compared to refined grains. The protein and heart-healthy fat in walnuts, almonds, and nut butter also helps keep you full until the next meal. Feel free to use any combination of nuts or just more of one (i.e., 1 cup walnuts and no almonds). I like a mixture of both for different textures and nutritional benefits. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats (the only nut to be significantly high in this heart-healthy fat). Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and calcium (the highest amount of calcium per serving compared to other nuts…unless you plan on eating a handful of poppy seeds or sesame seeds…). Coconut oil adds flavor and richness to the bars. Although coconut oil does have a high amount of saturated fat, it is a plant-based fat which makes it better for you than trans fat or an animal-based saturated fat like butter. BUT like any saturated fat, the amount consumed needs to be limited (to 7-10% of daily calories).
- 2 1/2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 2/3 cup peanut or almond butter
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2/3 cup honey or agave nectar
- 1/8- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (adjust to taste, less if peanut/almond butter is already salted)
- Lightly grease an 8×8 nonstick pan or line with saran wrap. Set aside.
- Mix oats, walnuts, almonds, cranberries, and coconut flakes in a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, add nut butter, coconut oil, honey or agave nectar, and sea salt. Heat for 30 seconds in microwave.
- Add nut butter mixture to oat mixture and stir well.
- Place mixture into pan and press lightly to create an even surface. Cover and refrigerate for overnight or for at least 3 hours.
- Cut into bars of desired size, remove from pan, and store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.