Melissa McArdle’s Homemade Granola Bars

By Melissa McArdle

Ever since I became a mama, my recipes are now approved by a very ‘sophisticated palate’ of a 4 ½ year old. She knows what she likes, and if all the ingredients are not to her liking, then I (and most often we) return to the mastering of perfection. It’s important for me to include her in all aspects of food. I want her to appreciate the process of eating from beginning to end, so we begin with where and how we source and purchase or gather our ingredients. I’ve noticed when she is more hands-on in the kitchen, she is more willing to eat what we prepare. Not only does this cooking together process involve other skills such as math, attentive time-frames, and lots of patience, but it is also about bonding with the cutest little sous chef I know.

Recently, we put our heads together to create a granola bar she would like to include in her school lunch. This is what we came up with (and the best thing about it, you can add or subtract most ingredients you wish to customize it to your family’s tastes):


Homemade Granola Bars
{adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics}

2 cups old-fashioned oats {gluten-free is what we used}

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

½ cup flax seeds {or pumpkin or sunflower seeds}

¾ cup toasted wheat germ

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pitted dates

1 cup raisins {or dried cranberries, blueberries, apricots, etc.} 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8×12-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper. Toss the oats, almonds and flax seeds together on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes (stirring occasionally) until lightly browned/toasted.  Transfer to a large bowl and stir in wheat germ. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Place butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the oat mixture.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour mixture in prepared pan, wet fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.  Bake for 25 minutes {longer time if you wish for crunchy versus chewy}.  Cool for at least 2-3 hours before cutting into bars.

Photo credit: Reverie-Daydream 

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  • michellemarie

    These sound great!!!! Thanks!!!

  • Torrie @ a place to share…

    i cannot wait to make these. i’ve got most of the ingredients… just need to pick up a few more items today.

  • Mel

    I let Kaden choose, so we did pecans instead of almonds, added some sesame seeds and used banana chips in place of a chewy dried fruit. Absolutely delicious -such a great recipe for adapting to personal taste! Only challenge was not making myself sick eating half the pan!

  • Fashion spiKe
  • Bruce Thomas

    My homemade granola bar recipe uses more flax and less grain to get more healthy omega-3 and fiber in the bars.