Nutty Granola Bars for a Healthy Snack

A good friend ran in the Philadelphia marathon recently.  I’m so proud of her!  She’s been preparing for this marathon for many months now and is in great shape, but she’s also hungry all the time!

And for good reason!  It takes a lot of energy to run 26.2 miles!  It’s estimated that a 150 pound person burns about100 calories per mile running, so the average runner burns 2600 calories (about a day’s worth of calories!  Yikes!) running a marathon.

Since friends don’t let friends run hungry, I decided to make her a high-energy snack for carb loading before the race.  Homemade granola bars go into lunchboxes to help my two guys have enough energy to make it through the school day and after-school activities.  So, I thought they would do the trick for a marathoner as well.

nutty granola bars

Nutty Granola Bars

I chose this recipe for Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars because they’re easy to reproduce, they’re chockfull of hearty whole grain, honey and nut goodness for quick energy and I could make substitutions to reduce the saturated fat and add variety.   Here is the recipe with my substitutions.

Nutty Granola Bars       

¾ c. honey

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus some for the baking dish

3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1/3 c. each whole almonds, walnuts, pecans and wheat germ

Coarse salt

1 c. raisins or other dried fruit

1/3 c. creamy peanut butter or other nut butter

1/8 c. light-brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a small saucepan, heat ¼ c. honey and butter over low.  Cook, stirring, until butter melts, 2 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, wheat germ, and pinch of salt.  Drizzle honey mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine; wipe saucepan clean.  Spread mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool completely on sheet, 10 minutes.  Return to large bowl and add raisins; stir to combine.
  3. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.  In saucepan, combine ½ c. honey, peanut butter, and brown sugar over medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar dissolves, 10 minutes.  Drizzle over oat mixture and stir until combined; transfer to a baking dish.  With a spatula, firmly press granola into dish.  Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, then cut into 32 small bars.  (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 5 days.)

Substitutions included:

1. Lighten the Fat/oils

Dietary fat is essential for health because it supports body functioning.  But dietary fat comes three ways which I classify as the good the bad and the ugly.  The good includes monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs); the bad is saturated fat; and the ugly is transfats.  To reduce the saturated fat, I swapped 1 tbsp. canola oil (or extra virgin olive oil if you prefer) for one tbsp. of butter.  Canola and olive oil are both monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) thought to reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cardiac disease. So marathoners and couch potatoes alike will want to stay away from saturated fats like butter, and include MUFAs in their diet.

2. Mix the Nuts

Almonds are awesome, but I like to mix it up a bit.  In place of the 1 1/3 c. slivered almonds, I used 1/3 c. each walnuts, whole raw almonds, pecans and wheat germ.   Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), minerals, antioxidants and vitamin E.

3. Swap Peanut Butter for Almond Butter

Almond butter costs two to three times the price of peanut butter (made from ground peanuts).  Because they have similar nutritional profiles, and I always have peanut butter in stock, I used that instead.

4. Cut the volume of brown sugar in half

You don’t need it.  The honey makes these bars sweet enough.

5. Resize it

I used a larger (13” x 9”) baking dish, and cut the bars into ½ the size recommended.

To make them portable, wrap in unbleached wax paper and twist the ends.

wrapped granola bars

Granola Bars wrapped in unbleached waxed paper

My friend loved the granola bars and did really well in the marathon. She ran 26.2 miles in just under 4 hours and I think my snack helped.  Whether you are preparing for a sporting event or just looking for a healthy snack, try these granola bars.

7 thoughts on “Nutty Granola Bars for a Healthy Snack

  1. Jodi

    from the woman who ran the marathon – these bars rock and are perfect for endurance athletes! thank you mrs. moore better food for the yummy snack and the support! i will no longer run hungry! 🙂

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