I have good intentions of eating healthy. I try to stay away from unhealthy snacks most of the time because I just feel better when I give my body the fuel it needs. But when I get busy, those good intentions can easily fly out the window if I don't have healthy snacks ready to grab and go. Here are a couple of my favorites to have on hand. They're easy to make, store well and best of all taste great!


Three granola snacksNutty energy bars

2 cups of rolled oats


1 cup of unsweetened coconut


1 cup of nuts (any combination of almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.)


½ cup of sunflower seeds


½ cup of chopped dates (or substitute raisins, craisins, etc.)


1½ cup of peanut butter


1 cup of honey


1 teaspoon of vanilla


Combine peanut butter and honey in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Add vanilla and stir until smooth.


In another large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Add peanut butter mixture and stir until combined.


Lightly coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Press mixture into about a 1-inch thick rectangle on cookie sheet (it may not fill the entire sheet). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.


I wrap these in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.


Cranberry, almond, pumpkin seed granola

2½ cups of old-fashioned oatmeal


2½ cups of quick cooking oats


2 cups of crisp rice cereal


1 teaspoon of cinnamon


1 teaspoon of sea salt


¾ cup of fruit purée (apple, pear or peach) – I just throw some applesauce in the blender but you could also use baby food


½ cup of honey


¾ cup of packed, light brown sugar


2 tablespoons of vegetable oil


2 teaspoons of vanilla extract


2 cups of almonds, natural


1 cup of pumpkin seeds


2 cups of cranberries, dehydrated


Place oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 350. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.


In a large bowl, combine the oats, rice cereal, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir to mix well.


In a medium bowl, combine the fruit purée, honey, brown sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir to mix well.


Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and mix until completely blended. Spread the mixture evenly between the two prepared baking sheets. Squeeze clusters of granola together with slightly damp hands, allowing for space between clumps while baking.


Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets, flip over the granola with a large spatula and add the almonds and pumpkin seeds. Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until completely dry and just golden brown.


Allow to cool on baking sheets. Store in an airtight container when completely cool. Add the dried cranberries just before serving.


Easy granola bars

2 cups of rolled oats


½ cup of wheat germ


½ cup of sliced almonds


½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips


½ cup of cranberries, dehydrated


1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk


Preheat oven to 325. For easy removal, line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil and coat foil with non-stick spray.


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Turn into prepared pan and pat down until firmly packed. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature and freeze.


When the bar is firm, use foil to remove from pan. Remove foil and cut into 16 1-inch by 4-inch bars. Bars can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week or frozen.


Note: Substitute ½ cup of rolled oats, finely ground in a food processor or blender for the wheat germ.


Do you have a topic you'd like reading about? Would you like to share your favorite granola recipe? Email chef Karen at karen@letkarencook.com or comment at Everyday Gourmet Aiken on Facebook and your suggestion may be featured in her next article!


Karen Tempel, an aspiring chef since she could reach the countertops, has been delighting friends and family with tempting treats for most of her life. She is the owner of Everyday Gourmet, a custom caterer in the Aiken area. Visit her website at www.LetKarenCook.com or email her at Karen@LetKarenCook.com.


So you know ...


According to Wikipedia -


Granola is a breakfast food and snack food, consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey, and sometimes puffed rice, that is usually baked until crisp.


Try the Cranberry, Almond, Pumpkin Seed Granola as a topping for yogurt, strawberries, bananas, and other fruits.


Enjoy these granola snacks in moderation. While certainly healthier than an order of fries or a milk shake, they are calorie dense. And because they're tasty, it's sometimes hard to stop eating them!