Super stealthy healthy ADHD recipes, Edition 2: GRANOLA SNACKS

Super Stealthy Healthy Granola Snacks for the ADHD Diet
Super Stealthy Healthy Granola Snacks for the ADHD Diet

Convenient snacks are tough to come by in an ADHD diet.  If they’re conveniently packaged, they’re probably loaded with sneaky ingredients that make them last a long time on the shelves.  Unfortunately, these same ingredients make them unhealthy or completely undoable for ADHD.  One snack that used to be a staple in our house was convenient, pre-packaged granola bars.  


Of course, now that our son has been diagnosed, just about none of the products we used to buy work anymore.  Between the additives, food sensitivities, added sugars and price tag for gluten-free options, it’s a big “NO THANKS” to the pre-packaged bars.


But the beauty of granola bars is that they’re fairly easy to make at home.  With a little planning ahead you can create your own for lunch boxes, trips, and those moments where you need to run out the door with something to eat.  Here comes the sneaky part…there’s all sorts of good stuff you can pack in there.


Instead of just providing a granola bar recipe, I will explain what type of ingredients you should gravitate toward to create a bar that fits you or your child’s unique dietary needs.  


A major goal for an ADHD diet is to boost protein and lower sugar intake.  Carbohydrates – even the good kind – add up quickly and cause blood sugar spikes when improperly balanced with protein and fat.  Focus on creating a protein/fat-packed granola bar.  Chances are you won’t have to worry about making sure it has plenty of energy-filled carbs since those come so easy.


Below is a list of possible granola ingredients.  You can pick whichever options work best for your food sensitivities.  After the list there is a sample recipe.


Recommended ingredients (food sensitivities permitting)
The goal behind most of these ingredients is to increase protein, fiber and/or healthy fats.  

  • Crushed nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc.)

  • Seeds (pepitas, sunflower, chia, etc.)

  • Nut and seed butters (peanut, almond, cashew, sesame, seeds…)

  • Ground flax

  • Cocoa powder

  • Amaranth (popped amaranth works best)

  • Protein powder

  • Fine ground nuts (walnut, almond…)

  • Healthy oils (extra virgin olive, coconut, etc…)

  • Coconut flakes

  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon

Ingredients that add bulk – gives the granola shape but doesn’t add excessive carbohydrates/sugars

  • Puffed brown rice

  • Smashed up ADHD-friendly cereals (check the labels for questionable ingredients)

  • Oats

Bindernut butters and oils will help the ingredients stick together, but you will most likely need a syrup/sugar to get things really sticking.  This ingredient is a necessary evil and the main reason you shouldn’t add other high-carb ingredients.  The options below offer a very small amount of nutrients, making them nominally better for ADHD than other sugars:

  • Brown Rice Syrup – low glycemic index, about the same viscosity as honey with a similar flavor

  • Molasses (Blackstrap is best) – this adds a very distinctive taste, so make sure you like it first!

  • Malt syrup – malty flavor


Not recommended

Adds an unnecessarily high amount of carbohydrates/sugars to the overall recipe:

  • Dried fruits (raisins, craisins, etc.)

  • Chocolate chips

Binders that could certainly be used, but are less than ideal due to their processing or lack of nutrients:

  • Honey

  • Agave syrup (although in a pinch this has a low glycemic index)

  • Maple syrup

  • Corn syrup


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Disclaimer: I don’t believe in magic numbers.  The ingredients below give an idea of how much dry ingredients and wet ingredients you could use to get the granola bars at the right consistency.  You could perfect your own recipe by using a similar ratio of dry to wet ingredients based on what you see below. 


Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup puffed brown rice

  • 1 cup smashed, BHT-free rice or corn chex

  • ½ cup popped amaranth

  • ½ cup ground flax seed

  • ¼ cup hemp protein powder

  • ½ cup pepitas

  • 1 cup crushed cashews

  • ½ cup ground almonds

  • 2 tsps cinnamon


Wet Ingredients:

  • ⅛ cup olive oil

  • ⅓ cup sunflower seed butter

  • 1-½ tsps vanilla extract

  • ⅓ – ½ cup brown rice syrup



  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl

  2. Stir/whisk the wet ingredients together in a small mixing bowl

  3. Mix the blended wet ingredients into the blended dry ingredients until even in consistency – you may have to get your hands in there

  4. Use an ice cream scoop to create even portions of granola – smash the granola together in your hands to shape it into a bar or ball

  5. Wrap the granola bars in wax paper, saran wrap or convenient snack bags for later use

  6. Store in the freezer if flax was one of the ingredients

~ Makes about 15 bars


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Some images of the finished products are below…

Granola Balls - ADHD-friendly
Granola balls – a fun variation of granola bars. These were rolled in ground almond for an almost donut-hole style look. Later on they were wrapped in plastic wrap for storage.
Different ways to package homemade granola
Homemade granola can be packaged in wrapped/taped wax paper or convenient snack bags.

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