If you are anything like me you grew up with the good old Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars always on hand..in your lunchbox, the pantry, the picnic basket..in my Home growing up they were always thought to be a good healthy snack. Well guess again!!
Upon further research, and re-reading the ingredients from my old-favourite Quaker Oats Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bar (now knowing how to properly read said ingredients list) I realized that eating one of these snacks was not much better than eating a mass-produced Chocolate Candy Bar! In the ingredients there are 8 sources of Sugar listed (totaling 7 grams or 2 tsps of refined sugar) and though claiming to be Trans-fat Free, they also contain Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils (which are in fact trans-fats!). Trans-fats cause your LDL (bad) Cholesterol levels to raise and your HDL (good) Cholesterol to lower, having an adverse effect on the health of your heart. These tiny bars of seduction also contain only 1 gram of Fibre even though the manufacturer touts their Greatness for being made with only Whole Grains! So what is a busy person such as yourself who is always on-the-go and often in need of a quick healthy snack to do?? Keep reading and find out!
Fortunately my friend Jeremie introduced me to a Delicious, Easy and Healthful alternative to these over-processed convenience foods. Just make your own! Jeremie modified a recipe from www.givemesomeoven.com for 'No-Bake Energy Bites' into delicious homemade Granola Bars that you can even add your own fun, tasty and healthy ingredients too if you like! You can find the link to the original recipe in the Sources Section below.
Jeremie's No-Bake Granola Bars
4 C Quick Oats (I have also used Spelt Flakes in the past and they worked just as well!)
1 1/3 Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
2 C Natural Peanut Butter/Almond Butter
2 C Ground Flaxseed
1 1/3 C Raw Unpasteurized Honey
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
Wrap a layer of Cling wrap around a large baking sheet, and set aside. Stir all ingredients together in a Large Bowl (I use my wok) and mix together till all ingredients are blended well (best to use a pair of clean hands for this because you're likely to break your wooden spoon in the thick of it all!). Scoop mixture onto baking sheet and spread evenly. Cling wrap over top of mixture once spread. Use the roll from your aluminum foil (or something else that is hard and cylindrical) to really press the ingredients down and gel them together...don't be afraid to put your weight into it. Once the ingredients are compressed well, place sheet in fridge for 30 mins to harden. After 30 mins remove from fridge, unwrap and cut into bars. Re-wrap individually with Cling Wrap and store in fridge or freezer until you want a snack. Will keep for up to a week in the fridge, longer in freezer (though they have never lasted more than 2-3 weeks in my freezer so I can't speak for how long before they get freezer burnt).
Yield: Between 12-20 Bars (depending on how big you cut them)
One thing that I love about this recipe is that you can add in additional ingredients to your hearts content! Some of the extra ingredients I have added are Walnuts, Goji Berries, Cacao Nibs, Protein Powder (both plain and chocolate-flavoured). So you can see that this recipe can be as versatile and flexible as you want it to be! Have fun experimenting with your own combinations and please send along any superb concoctions you come up with..I always Love to try new food adventures!
If the above recipe seems daunting or time-consuming to you, have no fear, there are less processed granola bars on the market now (not like back in the day when I as a young whipper-snapper was eating at least one a day). When perusing the Granola Bar aisle (yes the options take up almost an entire aisle now!) look for an option that is lower in sugar (10 grams or less), has only a few ingredients (steer clear of those ingredients you can't pronounce), is trans-fat free and contains at least 3-4 grams of Fibre. If you are not sure how your favourite stacks up to other bars on the market, check out this nutritional info website to learn more http://caloriecount.about.com/tag/food/granolabar.
Be Happy, Be Healthy!