Cranberry Coconut Granola Bars

If I had a nickel for every granola bar I’ve purchased in my life, I’d be quite angry. Largely because I simply don’t know what I would do with 7,893 nickels. Other than relegate all coins to my iced coffee spending account. You know, because change isn’t real money. And evidently, neither is a debit card, as seen on my Bank of America statement for July.

I remember when I got into energy bars. It was after I lost weight and was in the midst of figuring out what proper “snacks” were.  I had my work cut out for me. Because in all my twenty years, snacks were a “Number 1” at McDonald’s. Or, if I was in the mood for something light, a Reese’s McFlurry. Seemed reasonable.

A nutritionist I visited turned me on to Luna Bars. (Which reminds me that I should send her a bill for addiction treatment.) I loved the first crispy bite into Chocolate Peppermint Stick. And then S’Mores. And though I was skeptical of the chocolate recommendations, I wasn’t about to argue with someone who gave me the green light to munch on a dead ringer for Thin Mints mid-afternoon. Unclear as to whether she meant to say, “Just have a Lettuce Bag” when all I heard was “Luna Bar.” Was that ‘carrot sticks’ or ‘carrot and Twix?’ She also prescribed that I eat a cupcake a day, but that’s another story for another day.

For someone who loved and still loves candy bars as fiercely (if not more) than most members of her family, I immediately took a liking to energy bars. Not the most nutritious rectangles in the world, but they made eating healthfully fun and decadent. And curbed my appetite until dinner. Well, actually no. They never really filled me much at all, but they mentally satisfied me- a feeling like I could eat a candy bar and call it health food. Because whether or not they’re akin to Snickers and Milky Way, they’re still slightly better. Sugar-wise? No. But they at least have some nutritional value- vitamins and minerals added, likely a good dose of fiber from whole grains, and a touch of protein for some staying power. And the ingredient list most likely doesn’t share the same trans-fats as Baby Ruth. No offense, Ruth.

Nowadays I stick to the ones that have under five ingredients, all of which I know well. Nuts, dates, yadda, yadda, yadda. The likes of Lara. And I’ve stopped needing to feed my jonesing for candy bars with something moderately healthy. I don’t even care to put a nutritional halo on a Heath Bar. Just crumble it and toss that baby on a sundae. With whipped cream. Because when I’m craving a candy bar, that’s what I should have. And when I’m craving a granola bar because I’m in need of a more substantial snack than chocolate covered nougat, a granola bar it is.

And to save me from further marring of my credit report, I’ve learned to make my own.

Cranberry Coconut Granola Bars (loosely adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9″ baking pan with foil and coat well with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the oatmeal and walnuts on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the coconut, puffed rice, and dried fruit.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.



24 thoughts on “Cranberry Coconut Granola Bars

  1. Tina

    I love Luna bars! I agree they are a perfect treat that still is at least somewhat nutritious. Your bars look so good too. Then again, has there ever been anything to come out of your kitchen that doesn’t? :)

  2. Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    These looks amazing!!! I also love the Chocolate Peppermint Luna Bars. They were the first I tried after reading in an article that Jennifer Garner ate them (I was an Alias addict). Those things are seriously too good for their own good, lol.

  3. peggyhogan

    I have always been meaning to try to make some kind of breakfast bar and this looks fabulous. I haven’t tried Luna but maybe should. A lot of them are too sweet for my tastes, so I can’t wait to try these. Where do you get brown rice puffs and if not that what would be a good substitute? I may try to add flax seed because it’s supposed to be so good for you. thanks!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Hey Peggy! You can get the brown rice cereal at Whole Foods. It’s just the same thing as Rice Krispies, but brown rice instead of white. So there’s no problem in just using Rice Krispies! I would definitely add the flax- I love that nutty flavor!

  4. Lindsay

    Does anyone not love the chocolate peppermint Lunabar? Gosh..they are too delicious for my own good. I had to stop buying more than one at a time because I couldn’t stop eating them.

  5. Pingback: Hiking. « Can You Stay for Dinner?

  6. Kensy

    I did a Google search for granola bar recipes containing cranberries and coconut (because I had some that needed to be used), and yours was near the top of the list. What a pleasant surprise – exactly the recipe I was looking for AND a wonderful, inspirational blog discovery! : ) Thanks for the recipe and best wishes with everything!

  7. Sareen

    LOVE your website! Just a quick question on this recipe. How do you store them if you’ve made a lot? Should I just toss them in a tupperware and keep them in the fridge? Also, can I substitute the vanilla extract with vanilla powder? (extract is a bit on the expensive side)

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Sure, you can sub vanilla powder! I would put them in a tupperware and store them on the counter for about a week and a half and then in the fridge if they aren’t going to be eaten within two weeks! Sugar acts as a natural, but really effective preservative, so they should hold up well!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.