What Bracha Should I Say on Granola Bars?

Ask the Rov: What is the correct bracha on a granola bar? Is it ha’adama, mezonos or maybe even hamotzi? How about the after-bracha?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah.

The five types of grains, although they grow from the ground, are upgraded from the bracha ha’adama to mezonos or hamotzi, depending on their preparation method. However, this upgraded status applies only when they are prepared in their ideal forms which is flour turned into bread and pastries or grain crushed and boiled in water (e.g. oatmeal). Whole kernels that are roasted or baked (e.g. puffed wheat cereal) are ha’adama.

If the grain was husked and cooked without being cut (e.g. pearled barley soup), some rishonim hold that it is mezonos, while others hold that it must be cooked to the point that the pieces stick together. The Alter Rebbe is understood to side with the first opinion that it is mezonos, yet recommends eating it during a bread meal to account for the opinion that it is ha’adama.

Granola is made from husked whole oats that had been heated or steamed, but still unfit to eat, so the bracha isn’t upgraded by this. They are then mixed with honey or other ingredients and heated again. Contemporary poskim differ on whether this second heating is considered “cooking” which would render it mezonos or it is considered toasting which would not elevate the bracha. The accepted opinion is that granola is ha’adama. (It is not subject to pas yisroel since it’s not a bread or prominent food, and toasted grains are clearly exempt from bishul akum.)

When grain is eaten in ha’adama form, the correct bracha acharona is unclear. While some rishonim hold it is borei nefashos, others entertain the possibility of some form of mei’ein shalosh (“al ha’adama v’al pri ha’adama”). The Alter Rebbe therefore writes that it is proper to eat such grain only during a bread meal, but if one ate the grain outside of a meal, borei nefashos should be recited.

Is there a way to eat a granola bar and avoid this issue? Since a granola bar is only partially made of oats, one can eat more than a kezayis of total ingredients, but not of oats, in a 6-minute time-frame, requiring a borei nefashos according to all opinions. This comes out to 1½ Nature Valley granola bars. B’dieved, if one ate more, a borei nefashos would still be recited.

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