Granola Bars – Chew on This

Granola bars are a great way to quickly refuel while on the run. However, store bought bars aren’t all as healthy as they claim. Take a look at a box of Quaker’s Chewy Oatmeal Granola Bars.  What’s the first thing that stands out? Each bar is low in fat and only 90 calories. Pretty healthy, right?  . The front of the box also boasts  each bar contains 8g of whole grains and no high fructose corn syrup. Great!  I’m almost sold on these little guys. Ok, time to dig deeper now… Let’s take a look at the nutrition label including the ingredient list and see just how well they actually measure up.

Photo credit: Walmart.com

See the ingredient list?  I, for one, am in shock.   It may be true that these granola bars have no high fructose corn syrup but what about the  brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, and more corn syrup? Healthy additives? Maybe not.  Read on.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating one of these granola bars once in awhile but, if you want a truly healthy  bar I say make them yourself!

Photo credit: Quakeroats.com

Healthy Granola Bars

Here’s my go-to granola bar recipe. There are no added sugars.They are all natural and most importantly they’re delicious! What’s also great about them is that while simple, they are extremely versatile. If you have peanut allergies, you can simply sub out almond butter for the peanut butter. If you’re vegan, substitute agave nectar for the honey. If you share my sweet tooth top bars with dark chocolate chips. These are great for kids, adults, and everyone else.  They even make great gifts.   Happy snacking everyone!

Photo credit: Minimalistbaker.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool)*
  • 1/4 cup honey (or sub maple syrup or agave for vegan option)
  • 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten free for GF eaters)
  • optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about one minute) and mixture forms a “doughy” consistency. (mine rolled into a ball)
  • Optional step: Toast oats at 350 degrees Farenheit in oven 15  minutes or until slightly golden brown. Otherwise, leave them raw – I just prefer the toasted flavor.
  • Place oats, almonds and dates in a bowl – set aside.
  • Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture. Mix thoroughly until dates break down and are evenly distributed.
  •   Transfer mixture to an 8×8 dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily. (A loaf pan might work, but will yield thicker bars.)
  • Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
  • Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn’t necessary.

About Erica Markovitz

I'm currently a junior at the University of Illinois @Urbana-Champaign majoring in food science and human nutrition with a concentration in dietetics. I am also a huge sports and fitness enthusiast. Since nutrition has such a large impact on our emotional, physical, and mental well-being, I'm interested in teaching others about all of the benefits a healthy lifestyle can have.

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