A healthy bit of something sweet: Almond-Butter Chocolate-Chip Granola Bars

August 29, 2016

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian

I’m not sure whether to call this a dessert or a snack – but it’s a great thing to take to a tailgate!

When you need a little something sweet, this can fill the bill. It is not a low-calorie snack option, but it has its benefits. The nuts and almond butter provide some protein and omega 3s. The nicest thing about this recipe is that all the ingredients are real foods. I can pronounce and identify all the ingredients, which is appealing to me. One strategy for making healthy food choices is to keep them simple, avoiding as much processing as you can. You will get less fat, sugar and salt by following this strategy.

If you are trying to reduce calories, fat and carbohydrates, though, you might want to keep your portions small. There’s a lot packed into a small volume here.

This is one of the recipes our chef has shared with me. Come learn more at our next Providence Cooks! on Sept. 6.

Almond-Butter Chocolate-Chip Granola Bars


  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup of agave or honey
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup toasted oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips


  • Toast oats in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes to give a toasted flavor.
  • Place dates in a food processor and mix until small bits remain and they form a ball. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add oats, nuts and chocolate chips. Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking down the dates so they disperse fairly evenly throughout the ingredients. Small chunks are fine.
  • Warm agave and almond butter in a small saucepan and pour over dry ingredients. Stir quickly to evenly coat. The chocolate chips will get a little melty; that is fine, and even desirable.
  • Transfer to a shallow pan lined with parchment paper and top with plastic wrap.
  • Use your hands to form the mixture into a tight square (keeping in mind you want them 1/2 inch thick and you will cut them into 10-12 bars) with a uniformly flat top. This will take a little work, but the warmth of your hands will work well to shape them.
  • Still covered, pop them into the freezer to set for 15 minutes. Remove and cut bars. Store in airtight container or bag in the freezer for longer-term storage.

Nutrition Information: 246 Calories, 11 grams fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams protein.


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes – our next one is on Sept. 6.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.