Granola Snack Bars

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It seems like we have new interest in things to send to Iraq, so I am re-posting this recipe that I had lots of requests for when requests for recipes started coming in some months ago.  My son loved these granola bars because they always arrived in good shape, and he could take them on missions with him, and have them to eat if they got delayed (which happened a lot).  Another thing he remembers with great fondness now that he is back on U.S. soil, are all the small pop-top cans of fruit that his aunt sent him.  He isn't that big of a fruit eater normally, but, for whatever reason, he really loved that canned fruit when he was in Iraq! :)  I never thought to send such a thing myself. 

Two other tips:  1) I knew many mothers and wives who sent things in vacuum-packed bags.  I don't have a machine that does this, but evidently the cookies sent in this fashion arrived in an almost fresh-from-the-oven condition that the soldiers were very enthusiastic about.  2) One thing that was over-sent to my son's unit was candy.  His unit received so much of it that they just put it in a big box for anyone to take out of at any time, and they started sending home letters, asking that family members stop sending the stuff. 

Granola Snack Bars

Recipe makes one 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 inch jelly-roll pan.  If you cut 6 rows across the narrow direction of the pan of 5 bars apiece, you end up with 30 bars per pan.  Recipe doubles easily, and bars freeze well, so it is easy to make a bunch, and send in several small batches.  ***One more thing I found about sending packages:  small packages sent frequently were appreciated more than less frequent larger ones.  The feeling of

having contact from home was appreciated just about as much as the contents.***

3/4 Cup walnut pieces (3 oz)

1/2 Cup pecan halves (2 oz)
1/4 Cup whole almonds (1 1/2 oz)
1/3 Cup currants  (1 2/3 oz) (raisins will do)
1/3 Cup dried apricots (1 oz)
1/3 Cup dried apples (1 oz)
3/4 Cup light-flavored olive oil (originally 1 1/2 sticks butter)
       I believe coconut oil would work as well, and it stands up fine to baking
1/2 Cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mineral salt (regular recipe calls for 1/4 tsp regular salt)
6 Cups rolled oats, quick  cooking or regular work equally well

Preheat oven to 300F

Prepare jelly-roll pan by greasing, and then lining the bottom with a too-long piece of waxed paper.  Leave ends of waxed paper about 2 inches long sticking out over each of the short ends of the pan, to help in removing the finished bars.

Chop dried fruits and nuts very finely (a food processor works wonderfully for this.  Currants/raisins may be left whole if you prefer).  Mix together and set aside.

Combine all ingredients, except for oats, in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Simmer for one minute.  Add the fruit and nut mixture, and mix well.  Add the oats in two batches, mixing well after each addition.

Press the finished mixture into the jelly-roll pan with the back of a spoon, or your fingers, making the mixture of even thickness, and making sure to press the mixture together well so that it will adhere into bars as it cooks.  Cut into desired sized bars before baking.  I found that pushing a knife through the mixture instead of drawing it through disturbed the oats less, and left the waxed paper layer more intact. After cutting the bars, you can press any resulting "Crumbs" back into the bars with your fingers.

Bake bars for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, and cool in pan, to give the bars a chance to solidify.  When bars are cooled, use the waxed paper sticking out of the ends of the pan to remove all the bars as one piece. Place the bars, still on the waxed paper, on a cutting board, and re-cut along the original lines.  Separate the bars, and wrap in waxed paper, taping each package shut with cellophane tape.

When sending these, I put batches into heavy-duty baggies with zipper tops, then in boxes.  The baggies come in very hand for other things, in a country where sand gets into everything, no matter what you do.  I knew of guys who kept their clean underwear in baggies!

My prayer is that God bless you all, and grant you peace.  I know how hard a time it can be when a loved one is deployed.


I don't know if he likes this type of cookie, but because of the low fat content and the fact that they are rather hard to begin with I like to send Italian biscotti cookies with the almonds in them.  Chocolate is out and anything with a high butter or fat content could go rancid this time of year. A basic sugar cookie is a safe bet or an oatmeal cookie.  My son says that sometimes packages arrive at his base and then they sit on trucks until people get around to unloading them and then delivering them.

Joya Casey

'05 Parent
From our experience homemade baked items did not survive the trip.  Store bought, because of the preservatives, did survive well.  I hope this helps.
Jerry (Father of Captain Dan '02) 
Bless you and your soldier son.   Your note takes me back to 1968 when my new husband was in Vietnam.  All he ever asked for was POPCORN!   I sent it
over in cases of ready-to-pop aluminum pans.

I saw another answer with the suggestion to replace chocolate with M&Ms -- excellent suggestion.  I think there are tiny candy-covered chocolate "kisses" now, too.   Suggest packing cookies in waxed ice cream carton(s) stacked inside one of those closable freezer bags from the grocery store or the nice insulated one from Sam's, to provide insulation against the heat. The ice cream carton(s) will provide some insurance against breakage in shipping and the rectangular cartons  will stack wonderfully inside the freezer bags.   Pack the bag with bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts for cushioning.   Or bag cookies in thick paper grocery bags, fold down or roll the tops 'til the cookies are not rattling around, tape, then surround with peanuts inside a box or a Styrofoam cooler.  Whatever the flavor, they won't last long once they've arrived!   :)   The cartons may come in handy for other storage and are definitely disposable!

Have a fun time with your cookie project.

Best to all ~

Sam Price
I have made an Americanized version of the Australian ANZAC cookie. You can Google ANZAC Cookies and get many variations of this recipe. Here is the one that I adapted.

I used butter flavored Crisco instead of butter and I added raisins (dried cranberries). Anything else, including nuts, will suffer from the heat. I cut small circles of wax paper to put between the cookies and pack them in the small plastic containers in which strawberries are sold. They hold up very well and my 1LT son-in-law loves them.

Phylis '04
I've had good luck with biscotti and peanut butter cookies.  I make some biscotti with chocolate chips and they seem to do alright even in the summer.  I also make them with dried fruit, cinnamon, etc.  I have made cookies with M&Ms and they travel well, also.  Gingerbread cookies travel and keep very well.  During my son's first deployment, a friend helped me bake, decorate and pack 250 gingerbread men for my son's company at Christmas time.  Last year, one of my daughters and I did over 200 men and ladies.  The piped frosting was smooshed but the cookies last forever.  My son '01 just returned from his second deployment and my daughter '03 is in the middle of her first.  Package delivery has improved dramatically since my son was in Iraq at the beginning of the war.  Boxes are getting to my daughter in 5 or 6 days so I have also sent brownies.  I don't cut them so they'll stay fresher and I wrap them in multiple layers and send along a plastic knife.


Happy baking!

Anne Marie Mahoney
I send cookies to my son often.  I bake chocolate chip, oatmeal, and a mocha chocolate chip cookies, freeze them.  When I am ready to send them, I put them in food saver bags (8 cookies back to back to make a square of cookies in the bag) and suck out the air (being frozen keeps them from getting crushed.  My son says they arrive fine (I am sure the chocolate chips are melted but that is OK with him.  He does have to use a knife to separate the cookies that are back to back or just eat two at once.  I send lots so he can share them with his platoon.

I used to send fudge often but then stopped because of the heat.  My son's gunner (he is in armor) asked when I was sending more, so I made a batch, put it in a square foil pan and wrapped it in 4 plastic bags sealed with tape for each bag.  Then I sent spoons.  Haven't heard how that arrived.

Good luck!!
Whatever you make, you can put them in that home vacuum sealer, we found that everything arrived perfectly safe to eat, if not perfectly gorgeous!
Our son requested the same last year, he wanted the kind with the candy in them.. My sister sent a bunch of these to Iraq when her son was there a couple of times.. Instead of chocolate chips, I put M&M's in the cookies.. there are some that are smaller and withstand the baking better.. The chocolate stays pretty much in the candy shell.. he said it was difficult to keep any for himself.. I also used butter in my cookies and then wrapped 6 to 8 in a row in plastic wrap, then put two rows in plastic baggies, so there is something easy to store them in after they are opened, and it also keeps anything that crawls out of them.. lol.  He said they were very fresh and they didn't melt..

Sugar and oatmeal cookies, or biscotti

God bless you and yours

    They're not exactly cookies, but they are a cookie like pastry called Chrusciki (Polish Angel Wings).  I wanted to send my son something that would hold up under the extreme summer heat in Iraq, so I made him Polish Anger Wings.  

     I designed my own packaging by putting them in a plastic bag.  However, before putting them in the plastic bag, I punched holes in the bag with a sharp knife so the pastry could breathe.  Also, instead of sprinkling the wings with powdered sugar, I put the powdered sugar in a separate baggie with instructions for the sugar to be sprinkled on the wings before consumption.  It worked out great!  My son said they were great and were not stale.

    Enclosed is a nice recipe for the Chrusciki.  To make the job easier, I beat the eggs in my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I remember my mom & grandmother beating the eggs by hand, but believe me, the mixer makes the job much easier.

    For final packing, put the plastic bag full of Angel Wings in a box with packing material. (the small pieces of Styrofoam)

    Good Luck!


Steve Lewandowski

"2002" Dad
After sending everything I could think of I would recommend oatmeal raisin cookies for the longest freshness.  Oatmeal raisins or other dried fruit are also a big hit.  You might send them in a tin the first time so he can reuse it for future goodies.  Mine got a kick out of seasonal tins as additional decorations.  Do not make anything using butter because it will turn rancid.  It truly is all about homemade goodies because they can get most things at their FOBs.  It's all about the warm fuzzies. We have a son leaving this week for his second deployment.  With another son having been deployed twice and a daughter-in-law deployed once, I am running out of fresh ideas.  If you get any great ideas would you please pass them along or post them on the grad net? Take care.  I wish you good sleep or many phone calls at 3am!

Jane Erickson

I did some searching on the Internet and it seems like oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, lemon or sugar cookies go well. I searched for cookies for
soldiers and found these two links that I thought were helpful. Lots of people cooking cookies and you could probably email them about what goes
well in the heat. Several said they use M&Ms in the hot months rather than
chocolate chips.

I have attached my all time favorites for sending overseas. I cook Toll House Pan Cookies like brownies and cut them in squares. My son loved these.

Pumpkin Bread is moist and I sent that in the fall. This was a hit with the
other soldiers.

Skillet Cookies are cooked date cookies rolled in coconut. I sent them in the winter so I don't know about the other times of the year. But they were

a great favorite.

My son has been to Iraq and Afghanistan. I found that things I sent to AFG

would dry out. I may have been very dry or also the effect of the altitude. So, these recipes would do well.

I sent the pumpkin bread and Toll House cookies to Iraq. I think oatmeal

raisin and peanut butter would be good.

I recently made the mini-chip shortbread, and I think it would go well.

So, good luck. Hope you will post a summary of what you were told!

Blessings, Becky (John '00)

I hope you will share the suggestions and recipes.

I heard from a seasoned army wife that rice crispy treats held up well in the summer. Could even put some chocolate chips in it. Look on the rice crispy box. I would think any type of peanut butter cookie, sugar cookie, oatmeal cookie would work. Shortbread or even what is called blonde or butterscotch


The recipes above are some I have used.

The skillet cookies were a total hit when I sent  them, and I had to make more. They are a date cookie that is cooked and then rolled in coconut. I don't know about the hot weather, but since they are sticky and cooked, they might work. I sent them in the winter to Afghanistan and they made it fine. I found Afghanistan was very dry and some things dried out because of the altitude. So, these were great.

The pumpkin bread is what I used in the fall. He loved it. Just wrap them

tight and cushioned.

The Toll House Cookies were the all time favorite. I cook them like brownies and cut them in squares. They travel very well.

I have used a vacuum sealer for the food but hard to do at times. The other
best idea that worked was to use a plastic container with a lid. Start with
wax paper, then a layer of cookies, then wax paper, then another layer of
cookies, until you have filled the container, with wax paper on the top to fill it up and make it snug. Put on the lid, wrap it with bubble wrap, and tape with it some clear sealing tape. This worked well.

I have also included an article I saved on packing cookies where I got the idea how to pack.

I have attached a recipe I found for cookies for soldiers.
And, see the tips in the link below. Very good.

Becky Gibson

We've been sending cans of frosting and graham crackers and bags of pretzels for our son and daughter-in-law to dip in the frosting.  I can't imagine any home made cookie making it in the heat.


Good Luck

Linda Carmen
This is a recipe that I saved the last time this question came up.   Our son is on his second deployment in Iraq too.  I'm embarrassed to say, I haven't made these bars, but I just may give it a try this time.

Would you email me any other recipes you receive?  I truly would appreciate

it.  BTW, talked to Greg today and he said mail has been taking a little longer lately, but  has been getting there in a just over a week.  Yep, those temps are up to 115 now.  I can't even begin to think what that feels like.

God Bless our children and all those who serve this great country.


Greg '02

My prayers are with you and your family.  Now, that said, I have a peanut butter cookie recipe that has no butter in it.  It's pretty crumbly but still yummy.  Here you go, enjoy:


Magical Peanut Butter Cookies

Yields 18 cookies

Taken from The Lady & Sons, Too!

By Paula H. Deen*

Publisher: Random House

Pg. 228


1 Cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1 ½ Cups sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup of the sugar, the egg, and vanilla, and stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven, and sprinkle the cookies with some of the remaining sugar. Cool slightly before removing from pan.
* Paula Deen herself gave permission for me to forward this to West Point families to share with their soldiers.
Peanut butter cookies with M&Ms hold up very well, as do oatmeal raisin--use
margarine instead of butter and they won't get rancid in the heat.

Most bar cookies also travel well--you can score them and let him cut them

apart (such as Toll House).

You can send him a "kit" to make his own no-bake Mud Cookies.  This assumes

that he has the ability to boil the basic ingredients.  I have sent these kits to so many soldiers, marines, and sailors over the years--they always love them and, of course, are very fresh.  The last two deployments for my grad were to Mosul and Tal Afar--both times he lived in an outpost without electricity or water most of the time.  Still, he managed to make many batches of these cookies for his platoon.  They used a small camp stove.

I pack everything in a lidded plastic bowl for mixing and storage and include a recipe card.  I once heard back from a sailor that my instructions were wrong--I had written, "store the leftovers in the bowl".  He said there weren't any leftovers.

Inside the bowl I add a small wooden spoon, a double-wrapped stick of margarine, baggies with the pre-mixed cocoa/sugar/milk/salt, one with the oatmeal, and a small plastic jar of peanut butter.  The recipe calls for some vanilla--I usually just put in a small bottle of it--they can use it for other things.  I also add a large folded sheet of parchment paper or foil for dropping/cooling the cookies.

Here are the amounts:

Baggie #1--1 stick margarine ( tell him it will have melted, but is still quite useable)
Baggie #2--1/2 cup dry cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup powdered milk, 1/4 tsp salt
Baggie #3--3 cups quick oats
8-oz jar peanut butter; vanilla (optional)

Bring to boil  until sugar is completely melted 1/2 cup water, margarine, and contents of Baggie #2.

Stir in 2 tsp. vanilla and peanut butter until blended, then stir in oats.

Drop by small spoonfuls and cool.

(Neil 03)
Pack the cookies in a tin or a well insulated container with paper towels and wax paper. They get there in good shape. Make sure you pack the inside container so the cookies can't move around and damage each other. Be careful about chocolate chips. You might use M&M's instead. My daughter and all the troops we sent cookies to always were happy to have them. Your son could also get a microwave and refrigerator at the PX. They are not expensive maybe a $100 for both. This opens up allot of avenues for other goodies. There are some great microwave brownies. Hmmm!!

My best to you and your family and God Bless Our Troops.

Rick Nay
Emily 03
You might try the recipes on this page.

Best of luck!  Karen D.

If you don't get a reply from write her. She has the most amazing recipe. I tested it on my co-workers and even the men said what a great cookie it was. I packed some up for my son's buddy in Iraq and sent priority. They should be fine. Good luck! Maria

(Joey - '05)

So far I think my oatmeal cookies have been arriving okay -- I make them
with oatmeal, raisins, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and an egg (as I recall) -- maybe my boy is just being polite! But here's an idea that I do know works, or has worked so far.  It was my son's birthday, and his favorite cake has always been my "double lemon" cake.  So I made him one and spelled out his name and "happy birthday" on it in little sugar letters that I got at the supermarket. But I never expected it to arrive in edible condition -- it was more a "it's the thought that counts" sort of gesture than any real expectation of the thing ever being actually enjoyed.  Nevertheless, he said "it was fine -- no mold, and absolutely delicious."  I then sent one to a young woman I know who is also in Iraq.  She said hers arrived fine too.  So, I have been regularly sending both my son and this girl cakes each week and they keep telling me they arrive fine and everyone enjoys them. Here is the recipe:

One package Duncan Hines lemon supreme cake mix

One package lemon Jell-O
4 eggs
3/4 cups canola oil
3/4 cups water

Mix this all very well.  Then pour it into an extremely well greased and floured bundt pan (this cake tends to stick).  Also, don't fill the pan too full because it tends to rise and flow over.

While it's baking, mix together lemon juice (I use fresh if I have lemons, or else bottled lemon juice) and confectioners sugar in equal parts, or maybe a bit more lemon than sugar.  It should be pourable once you've whisked it well.

When the cake is done, cool it a bit, then poke holes in it with a fork and drizzle the glaze all over it so it sinks down into the holes. 

I wrap the cake very well in several layers of aluminum foil, and believe it or not it seems to be edible upon arrival in Iraq.  I usually make a few at a time and freeze them, and the fact that the cakes literally thaw in their mailing package doesn't seem to cause any problems at all.  I use those mailing boxes at the PO that are free and then cost $8 no matter what the weight of the stuff that you put into them.  I nestle the cake in among our local newspapers, which the kids love to get in Iraq, and also whatever magazines are lying around or that neighbors give me.

I hope this works for you too. I send my very best wishes to you, your family, and especially your son.

Sincerely yours,
Ann Johansmeyer (mother, Soren Gutierrez, '03) 
Oatmeal raisin cookies, I think, do the best.  Remember, when they are flown over they will probably freeze, so it's only once they get to Iraq that you have to be concerned.  You may even try substituting applesauce for the butter if you are concerned about the cookies going rancid, but my son was up north and getting packages was very iffy; he never seemed to have a problem, even in the summer, with the oatmeal raisin cookies.

Good luck and God bless.

Snickerdoodles, oatmeal, and sugar cookies (no icing).  I've shipped all of these will pretty good success rates.

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