These cranberry coconut granola bars are made without oil and instead use mashed banana as a binder! They’re soft, chewy and also happen to be nut-free so they’re perfect for back to school.
This granola bar recipe actually took quite a few tests to perfect it! My goals? It had to taste good (of course) and stick together, but I also didn’t want the bars to have a ton of sugar. I thought this was an easy task, but it turned out to be quite the adventure!
I knew this batch was a winner as soon as I cut into them. When I tried a bite that consisted of a combination of toasted coconut, dried cranberries and chocolate, recipe development was done! They have the perfect amount of chewiness and a bit of crunch from the brown rice cereal.
I know it’s so easy to just buy granola bars at the store, but I’m here to show you that homemade granola bars are super simple to make and much healthier! These granola bars are made with just 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and no oil! The banana in the recipe replaces the oil and adds a hint of sweetness. No need for the sugar and oil laden snacks that will have your kiddos bouncing off the walls. Opt for this recipe with whole ingredients instead!
The sunflower seed butter keeps the bars from getting too dry and also helps them stay together. You could certainly experiment with using a different nut butter in place of the sunflower seed butter. I chose it because I like the flavor but it also keeps the bars nut-free. If your kids are going to school or daycare, this is a great nut and peanut-free snack!
Kids will love these bars because they have a bit of sweetness and us adults will love them because they’re healthy, homemade and include only 10 ingredients.
Toast your oats and coconut: Start by spreading the oats and coconut flakes on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350ºF until just golden brown. Let cool slightly.
Mix dry ingredients: In a large bowl, stir together the cooled toasted oats and coconut, cereal, cranberries and one tablespoon of chocolate chips.
Process: In a food processor or blender, pulse together the banana, sunflower butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until evenly blended.
Combine and prep: Stir the banana mixture into the oat mixture until combined. Spread the mixture on a baking pan or stone lined with parchment paper. Press down into a rectangular, flattened shape. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and use your hands or a spatula to press the chocolate into the mixture. You want the mixture to be as compact into the pan as possible!
Bake: Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the bars are golden brown. Cut into bar shapes before they have a chance to really harden and then let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container to store.
If you prefer a softer, chewy granola bar, I recommend storing on the countertop in an airtight container for up to five days. If you like a harder texture, you can store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer! They will last up to two weeks in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.