Granola Bars that are Good for You

Granola Bars that are Good for You

By Jenny Osburn

Jenny Osburn is the author of The Union Street Café Cookbook. Her second collaboration with Laura MacDonald of Deep Hollow Print, The Kitchen Party Cookbook, is now available! Find more recipes at and see what she’s up to on instagram at jenny.osburn

Am I the only parent who wants summer to last forever? As much as I enjoy the routine of the school year, the beginning of it brings a certain amount of anxiety. Meeting new teachers, waking up earlier than we want to, making sure we have all the needed supplies and paperwork and footwear. To be honest though, I mostly stress about packing lunches.

Hey, I love cooking and, since I don’t even have a real job right now, I have time. I’m privileged that even without me working full-time we can afford to buy good food for our kids. And packing lunches still really sucks. Finding foods that are tasty, pack easily, stand up after hours without refrigeration AND are nourishing to our kids is tough enough, but even if you manage that, will they eat it? Consider the school cafeteria with its incredibly short eating time, somewhat chaotic environment, and bombardment of temptations, and you can see why many parents are frustrated. And that’s if we’re lucky enough that feeding our kids doesn’t also cause financial worries, or feel downright impossible some days.

I think there is a better way.

I believe we could harness the power and support of our communities to feed every kid at school a tasty, nutritionally-sound lunch, whether or not they can afford to pay for it. Eating the same meal together would offer kids a sense of communion and belonging, and the opportunity to reinforce table manners and healthy eating habits. Plus kids are great at encouraging each other to try new things! By cooking with the wealth of food we produce (and yup, waste) in the Annapolis Valley we could be shifting away from the highly processed foods that harm us and cost us billions in healthcare.


Granola Bars that are Good for You

This is a very flexible recipe, so use up what you have in the kitchen! Try dried apricots, figs, dates, dried cherries or dried blueberries instead of the raisins and cranberries called for here. You can swap in your choice of nuts for the sunflower and sesame seeds if you don’t take them to school. Just do not omit the chocolate. My daughter insists it is key to the success of this recipe.

1/2 C sunflower butter or tahini (or peanut butter if these aren’t going to school)
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C milk or soy milk
1/2 C honey
2 Tbsp oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour (try Valley Kitchen All-Purpose for a gluten-free version)
1 1/2 C oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C dried cranberries
1 C chocolate chips
1/2 C sesame seeds
1/2 C ground flax seed or flax flour
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C coconut

Grease a standard size cookie sheet with canola oil. Combine everything in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Pack the mixture evenly into the pan. Use wet hands to smooth it down, then bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Cool for about half an hour, then cut into 32 bars. Freeze in an airtight container. These are great straight from the freezer, so hide them well. They will also keep for at least a week on your next camping trip, in the glove box, or your gym bag.