Monday, August 29, 2011

Nut-Free Granola Bars: The Perfect Allergy-Friendly Back-to-School Snack

Since school snacks are now a hot topic for parents around the country, I thought I would re-post this granola bar recipe which has been a reader favorite. Some of the most difficult nut-free products to find are nut-free granola bars, which is too bad because they make great, relatively healthy snacks for kids and adults.

My recipe is fast, easy and both kid and adult-friendly. It's also easy to alter to your tastes and food allergy needs. You can omit the SunButter or use soy butter if you need to and replace the chocolate chips (or combine them with) Ocean Spray Craisins or raisins. If you need to avoid eggs, add a little more honey as a binder and/or even a small amount of unsweetened applesauce (see the recipe below). Experiment with your kids until you find the combinations you like best.

A word about chocolate chips: If you want nut-free chocolate chips only, then check out Vermont Nut Free Chocolate for delicious varieties. If you would like egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free chips, Divvies and Enjoy Life Foods sell them. I also use Hershey brand semi-sweet chocolate chips because we only need to avoid nuts, not dairy. After many communications with Hershey and many years of using certain of their products, I feel confident about them.

Make a batch of these for after school snacks, during school snacks and lunchtime treats.

The Nut-Free Mom's Nut-Free Oatmeal Granola Bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dried fruit, or both)
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ; I use Kretchum brand (or in a pinch, use same amount of whole wheat flour but the wheat germ really gives it that "granola" taste)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (Morton's makes this)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup SunButter brand sunflower seed spread (or soybutter), optional
1 large egg (if going egg-free, use 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce instead)
2 tsp vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey or McCormick's are my faves)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with Pam.

- In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, wheat germ or wheat flour and salt until blended. Stir in oil, honey, SunButter, egg or applesauce and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Pat mixture into pan with a wet hand (so you won't stick too much).

- Bake until golden around the edges, 18-20 minutes for chewier bars, 25-30 minutes for crispier bars. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

- When cool, cut lengthwise into bars of your preferred size. I did four strips, each into four pieces for a total of 16 bars.


Tanya said...

Thanks for sharing ... I am going to make these today!

Misti said...

Thanks!! I have searched and searched for nut-free granola I can make some easy ones!! I know my kids will love them :)

Goody said...

We've had such an exhausting couple of days with allergies, hives, allergists, Benadryl, and the like-(and phone calls, and appointments, and, and, and) I just want to go find a wall to slam my head against...or a corner to sit and scream in...but what the heck, granola bars sound more productive! Everyone likes granola (I think). Besides, the eating will keep me from weeping with frustration. Is it just me, or does anyone else find dealing with the people who deal with your child, more maddening than the child's actual allergy?

This is a fantastic sounding recipe, and I consider you a more trusted source than say...most of the Internet ;)

Off to make (sniff)granola (sob) bars (weep) now.

Jenny said...

Goody--Baking is very therapeutic, so I hope this helps! No question, it is sometimes hard to deal with allergies and communicating our needs to others. If it makes you feel any better, EVERYONE I know who deals with food allergies has those low days.

I hope you feel better soon!

Misti and Tanya, hope you enjoy, too! Thanks for your comments.--Jenny

SarahG said...

Just made them can't wait to try them....just curious what is the best way to store them?

Ali said...

Last time I checked, Enjoy Life is Soy Free too! (DD outgrew soy, but when she was allergic, it was impossible to find any cracker or granola bar without it.)
Thanks for the recipe!

Jane Anne said...

I am going to have to try this. My son started 2nd grade today. He said that when his teacher was explaining his allergy to the class she asked him to share an example of something he can't eat. He said granola bars.

I sure hope he likes these! I've added them to my recipes to try list.

Jenny said...

Store in an airtight container. :) Hope you enjoy!

Poker Chick said...

These look delicious we'll try them! I substitute Ener-G egg replacer for all egg (for anyone reading) it works really well in any recipe I've tried.

Anonymous said...

Mine turned out really hard? :(

Jenny said...

Hmmm...Aren't granola bars usually kind of hard and crunchy? These have the kind of "Nature's Valley" granola bar texture I remember from our "before allergy" days.

You could try baking them for shorter time but I think the texture will stay pretty crunchy.

Erica P. said...

This turned out great! Thanks so much. We baked then 10 min less than recommended and they were perfect...chewyish. Super recipe and a life saver for camping trips.

Carly said...

Just made these-they are delicious! Used melted butter instead of oil and did applesauce since my peanut free girl is also egg free:) She loves them! Thanks!

Monica said...

After SunButter or SoyButter it says optional. Have you been successful leaving that ingredient out? My son is not allergic to those (just peanut/tree nut), but he doesn't really like it. Curious if I could leave it out, maybe add more honey and applesauce? Thanks! :)

Jenny said...

Hi Monica,

The SunButter adds flavor but I don't think omitting it affects the consistency too much, at least when I've made these without the SB. Of course, a smidge more honey and applesauce would never hurt! :) The biggest thing is that you have to slightly underbake if you don't want that crunchy kind of texture. Hope you enjoy them! Best, Jenny

normalgutz said...

I made them for my special needs students for the letter "G." They needed a little more honey (or maybe maple syrup) for my taste, but they loved them! Thanks!

normalgutz said...

I made granola when we were on the letter Gg for my sp. needs students. They needed more honey (or maple syrup) for my taste, but the kids loved it!

green_eyed_elf said...

Can you use regular butter? I am under weight person so I don't need to omit real butter. I don't stay away form "fake" stuff as much as possible.

Jenny said...

The SunButter called for is not a dairy butter substitute, it's a sub for peanut butter. SunButter is a sunflower seed butter that is very healthy and not at all fake. I would not use dairy butter in this recipe.