Granola Bars with Bananas, Cranberries & Pecans

I was almost scared to try another granola bar recipe. I’ve tried on many occasions (okay, maybe only like…5, but still), and none were a huge success. Most were actually a huge disaster.

They either didn’t stick together into bars, which defeats the whole idea of a granola bar for on-the-go. Or the contained more sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave that they may as well have been a cookie. Or frankly, they tasted…bad.

These granola bars? They were different.

First, they were bars. And they stayed that way. No crumbling. No scraping them from the bottom of a 9×13.

Second, they’re healthy. Not “healthy”, but really and truly healthy. They are naturally sweetened with banana and unsweetened applesauce. That’s it. No sugar, even natural sweeteners. They come in at 157 calories and nearly 4 grams of fiber a piece. They have healthy fats from the nuts and vitamin and mineral-rich fruit from banana, apple, and cranberries.

Lastly, and most importantly, they taste awesome.

With the new year and all the resolutions, snacking can be a pitfall of people’s diets. Snacks should be filling and nutritious, and moderate in calories. These fit the bill.

These are also great to add to a simple breakfast of yogurt or fruit for something quick and easy. As much as us grown-ups will enjoy these, they won’t last long with kids around, either!

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Granola Bars with Bananas, Cranberries & Pecans from Cookin Canuck

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
3 large, ripe bananas
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp ground flax seed (or flax meal)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a 9- by 13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, with about 1 inch of parchment paper overlapping the sides.

Spread out the oats and chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Place in the oven until they are lightly toasted, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with the back of a fork. Stir in applesauce until combined.

Transfer the oats and pecans to a large bowl and stir in dried cranberries, ground flax seed (flax meal), cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Stir the banana mixture into the oat mixture until well combined and starting to clump together. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press down evenly.

Bake until the bars are golden brown and starting to separate from sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Let cool to room temperature, then cut into 15 bars. Serve or store in an airtight container. Yield: 15 granola bars.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 157 calories; 5.9 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 79 mg. sodium; 24.5 g. carbohydrate; 3.8 g. fiber; 3.3 g. protein

Result: Sweet, dense, filling. These are hands down the best granola bars I’ve made. They come together in just a few minutes and keep well in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Enjoy!

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I stayed up too late watching the Illinois vs. Ohio State game…*yawn*

Be well,

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50 Comments

  1. January 11, 2012 / 6:02 am

    Those look really good!!

  2. January 11, 2012 / 6:24 am

    Yum! My problem with most granola bars is that they are stuck together with peanut butter and I don’t eat it, so I’m loving that your granola bars are PB free. I would think all the fruit in them would make them delicious as well.

  3. January 11, 2012 / 7:15 am

    Oooh, these look delicious! Plus I’m always looking for new homemade snack ideas! Yum! 🙂

  4. Emily
    January 11, 2012 / 7:40 am

    these look amazing! and super easy 🙂

  5. January 11, 2012 / 7:43 am

    No comment about the game. My lips are SEALED 🙂
    The bars sound wonderful. Ironically I made my granola bars last night, and they were a disaster. They didn’t hold together at all so they turned into .. granola.

    • Nicole
      Author
      January 11, 2012 / 8:11 am

      Go Illini! It’s SERIOUSLY about time we beat OSU…the fact that they -were- ranked #5 just made it all the sweeter 🙂 We have tickets to the Illini/OSU game when Illinois is here. Last year, it was bad. This year, I’m hoping for a respectable showing, at least!

      A lot of my granola bar attempts have turned into granola, as well. These were different!

  6. January 11, 2012 / 7:57 am

    I’ve made granola bars before that I LOVED but…they were definitely more like dessert than a healthy snack lol. Which was fine, because I dont’ really snack. But still. Maybe I WOULD snack more if I had a healthy granola bar to eat. These sound perfect!

  7. January 11, 2012 / 9:00 am

    Thank you! I’ve been meaning to try out a few batches of granola bars, but have been too lazy. Now I don’t have to! My daughter is allergic to peanuts so anything store bought is out of the question and it just doesn’t seem healthy when my fingers are sticky from honey and agave.

  8. January 11, 2012 / 9:26 am

    I ALWAYS have trouble with my bars sticking together– I’ll have to try these!

  9. January 11, 2012 / 10:16 am

    I am always on the lookout for a homemade granola bar – do you think I could skip the nuts and flax seeds because of my allergy? Would you add more oats to compensate?

  10. January 11, 2012 / 11:19 am

    These look amazing Nicole! That’s always been my problem too with granola bars – they crumble which totally defeats the purpose.

    Hannah doesn’t like to eat right when she gets up – I have everything to make these for when she starts back to school next week – thanks for the recipe!

  11. January 11, 2012 / 11:31 am

    I know what you mean..it can be difficult to find a delicious homemade granola bar recipe.
    These look fantastic. I love the addition of bananas. What a great idea!

  12. January 11, 2012 / 11:37 am

    I know exactly what you mean! It’s really hard to make such a healthy granola bar that’s actually granola bar-like and tastes good. These look great and I’m impressed with the ingredients list. I think I need to give these a try, I always need snacks like these.

  13. January 11, 2012 / 12:59 pm

    These look awesome! Can’t wait to try them 🙂

  14. January 11, 2012 / 4:21 pm

    These look tasty! Love the simple ingredients list AND that they actually stay together. hooray!

    • Nicole
      Author
      January 11, 2012 / 4:59 pm

      Hey! It’s called the “Pin It On Pinterest” plug-in for WordPress. Once you install it, you go to a post and put in the text and photo (it’s below the actual post when you’re writing it). It will make sense when you install it and go to write a new post, I think. Let me know if you need any more help with it 🙂

  15. Jenn
    January 11, 2012 / 6:14 pm

    These look awesome! I have a question though. In the paragraph below the 2nd picture you state that they are naturally sweetened with honey & unsweetened applesauce. I don’t see honey listed in the ingredients or directions. Can you verify that no honey is needed for these. I’m dying to make them! Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole
      Author
      January 11, 2012 / 6:23 pm

      Jenn: Thanks for your comment! I was trying to explain past recipes I had tried – a bit confusing, sorry! This recipe contains NO honey, but it does contain unsweetened (natural) applesauce as stated in the ingredient list. I hope that helps and I hope you love them, too!

  16. January 11, 2012 / 7:20 pm

    These little beauties look amazing! I have also been on the hunt for the perfect granala bar recipe — thanks for finding it for us! Bookmarking!!

  17. January 12, 2012 / 9:21 am

    These granola bars look amazing! I can’t wait to try them!

  18. January 12, 2012 / 10:01 pm

    Perfect, I have a bunch of bananas no one ate while I was out of town, and the husband just ran out of granola bars in his stash at work!

  19. January 13, 2012 / 10:17 am

    These sound like they’d be quite moist since they have no oil or butter. Are they? I’ve made a couple unappetizing granolas that called for applesauce/water/pumpkin and no fat.

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      January 13, 2012 / 11:36 am

      These are very moist, especially after being refrigerated. I consider that a good thing, but if you’re looking for a crispier texture, this isn’t the right recipe to try. I hope that helps!

  20. Lisa
    January 15, 2012 / 10:24 pm

    Hi! These look great. I’d like to try them, but I have a few questions. You said in the description that it is sweetened with applesauce AND honey, but I don’t see honey in the ingredients. Is there an ingredient missing? I don’t want to miss out on any extra sweet stuff 😉 ! Also what other nut can I replace for the pecans with the same calorie count? Maybe walnuts? Pecans aren’t available where I am (Germany). Thanks!

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      January 16, 2012 / 12:22 am

      Lisa: So glad you left this comment — instead of honey it should say banana and applesauce. I just fixed it! Just banana and applesauce there is no honey, sugar…nada! And I would sub in walnuts for the pecans and if not walnuts, almonds. Thanks again – hope you like them!

  21. Lisa
    January 16, 2012 / 6:49 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up! I made them today and they were fantastic. Thanks for the recipe, and I’m definitely going to try some more recipes from your site. They all look so delicious and, more importantly, healthy!

  22. Valerie
    July 12, 2012 / 6:32 am

    First time on your blog and these were a hit! I’ve been giving them out and people are demanding more! These are by far the best granola bars I’ve ever had the pleasure of making ^_^

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      July 12, 2012 / 6:35 am

      I totally agree – wonderful recipe! Thanks for your sweet note, Valerie! Have a WONDERFUL day!

  23. Rena
    October 18, 2012 / 3:05 pm

    Do these have a very strong banana flavor? I like bananas but each time i use them in recipes like this or smoothies, they flavor seems strange to me.

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      October 18, 2012 / 3:44 pm

      The banana flavor is strong, yes.

      • Rena
        October 18, 2012 / 3:46 pm

        Anything i can replace the banana with?

        • Nicole, RD
          Author
          October 18, 2012 / 4:08 pm

          Hmmm…you could try applesauce thickened up a bit with some cornstarch, or maybe half banana, half applesauce?

  24. December 30, 2012 / 11:06 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed my granola bar recipe. They are a family favorite here and I find myself making batch after batch of them.

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  26. Nicole
    October 19, 2013 / 9:21 pm

    Mine never hardened…are they supposed to?!

    • Nicole, RD
      Author
      October 19, 2013 / 10:33 pm

      Nope, they’re a soft granola bar 🙂

      • April
        January 7, 2014 / 7:25 pm

        The picture and recipe looked great. Just what I needed to get off to a healthier new year. We tried them today and I was very disappointed. Very bland and not crunchy enough, for my liking. One question about the bananas. Should they be overly ripe? That might give a sweeter flavor. If I did try it again I would try a little brown sugar. A little sugar can hurt much. It’s got to be better (healthier) than eating a candy bar.

  27. Amy
    March 5, 2017 / 2:43 am

    I was pleased to find a recipe for a granola bar with healthy ingredients that is easy to make. They are chewy, not crumbly, and stay together nicely. But I was totally underwhelmed by the very bland taste. Unless I find a way to add some flavor, I won’t use this recipe again.

  28. Debora
    January 14, 2018 / 11:04 am

    I’ve just made these bars, naturally sweet and they really hold together like bars. I’ve wrapped them individually in parchment and foil for a quick on the go breakfast.

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