Healthy Vanilla Bean Cherry Chocolate Granola Bars

by Kris on April 22, 2011

My friend Sonia recently sent me a message asking if I could come up with a healthy granola bar recipe. Spending up to 12 hours a day in the lab, this grad student has little time for meals and often relies on pre-packaged snack bars to keep her going. Upon noticing the high sugar content of her usual granola bars she was shocked to learn it rivaled most chocolate bars! Not to mention the high cost of these deceiving ‘health’ bars.

In order to lower the sugar content in my granola bars I replaced the usual granulated sugar with apple sauce and agave nectar. To lower the fat content I replaced the oil with almond butter which is also a great source of protein! These bars are also full of fiber thanks to the oats, brown rice cereal, millet and flax seeds. The dried cherries add a slight tartness to the bar and the grain sweetened chocolate chips give a welcomed creaminess with half the sugar of typical chocolate chips.  

These granola bars would be a great mid day snack on the go or even a healthy lunch box treat for your kids. You can also double the recipe as they freeze quite well. I’ll be packing a few of these bars this weekend as Greg and I will be hitting the road and spending the weekend camping in Texas Hill Country. Happy Friday!

¾ cup un-sweetened organic apple sauce
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
½ cup almond butter
1 whole vanilla bean
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup brown rice cereal
½ cup millet
½ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup grain sweetened chocolate chips
¼ Tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350

Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper, allowing it to hang off the side. Spray with cooking oil. Set aside.

Slice vanilla bean down the center and using a spoon scrape out the inside. Place the scrapings in a medium bowl, discard bean. Add apple sauce, agave nectar, and almond butter stirring well to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine, oats, rice cereal, millet, almonds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cherries, chocolate chips and salt.

Add reserved apple sauce mixture to oat mixture and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into reserved baking dish and press so it is even and flat.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Lift sides of parchment paper to release from pan and place on a cooling rack for an additional 10 minutes.

On a cutting board cut into granola bars.

Can be stored in the freezer or fridge.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

veggiegrettie April 22, 2011 at 5:31 am

These look fantastic! Gorgeous photography.


mary (sisters running the kitchen) April 22, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I need to make these!! they look so delicious. I love the combination of vanilla, dark chocolate, and cherry!


Tricia April 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I can always use a healthy snack besides fruit or raw veggies! I’ve always considered homemade bars to be too much trouble, but these look absolutely fabulous! I have to try them!

Thank you for this one!


gluttonandstudent April 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

These look so tasty – almost too good to be healthy! I can’t wait to make these – I could really use a stock of home made granola bars


Amber (exsoycise) October 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

These look delish!! Thanks for sharing, I’m going to try these! :)


shelley June 22, 2012 at 10:59 am

theses look great but Vanilla bean is not cheep do you have a good source to buy them? and the agava can I use honey instead we have Bee’s and that would be helpful.


Kris June 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Thanks. I find Madagascar vanilla beans tend to be cheaper, and buying them in bulk makes it much more reasonable. I have a great source in my amazon store here:


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