Granola bars are easy on-the-go snacks and meal replacements for busy schedules; but, do they meet any of our nutrient needs? Lots of commercial granola bars are loaded with added sugar and lack protein and fiber that keeps us feeling full.
How can you tell if your bar has satisfying fiber and protein? Check the label! Look for at least 3 g of fiber, and 5 g protein, and check the ingredient list for added sugar. One popular brand lists brown sugar as the second ingredient, with various forms of sugar showing up 10 TIMES on the list! That’s a lot of sugar (and ingredients, if you asked me).
Want to be 100% confident in what you are eating? Try making your own! It is fast and easy, and you can play with flavors and add things to your taste!
Preheat oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9 x 13 casserole dish with aluminum foil to prevent sticking (leave excess foil hanging over the long edges to make removal easier)
– 2 cups oats (adds fiber)
– 3/4 cup wheat germ (adds fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals)
– 3/4 cup ground flax seed (adds fiber and omega-3 fatty acid)
– 3/4 cup sunflower seeds (adds fiber and protein)
– 1 cup crushed peanuts (adds fiber and protein)
Mix ingredients in a bowl, spread onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 8 minutes until golden brown (stir occasionally to prevent burning). Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
– 1/2 cup brown sugar (we all need a little sugar every now and then :))
– 1/2 cup honey (to hold bars together)
– 4 tbl peanut butter
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
Bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes (stir to prevent burning):
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to coat. Here is where you add your flavor (dried fruit, dark chocolate, etc). Once all ingredients are mixed, spread the mixture into the casserole dish and pack tightly. Leave the dish at room temperature until completely cooled. Use the aluminum foil to remove the granola sheet from the dish and cut into snack bars or bite sized pieces!
Compared to the commercial bars, sugar only shows up twice on this list (brown sugar and honey). These bars are packed with protein and fiber to help you feel satisfied throughout your busy day, along with lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy unsaturated fats you won’t find in the boxed versions.
What will you add to your granola bars? Give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!