Easy Peasy Granola Bars
Granola bars. An easy thing to grab-and-go for kids and adults alike, but when we examine what’s really inside them I’m left wondering… what am I actually getting from this bar?
Most bars are full of sugar and additives, making them “low in calories” but high in processed food-like chemicals. The amount of sugar in some of these bars is truly astounding. I have seen some with as much 2-4 tsp of sugar PER granola bar (and I am talking about very commonly found bars-- check out this Huffington Post article to see where yours stand!) That’s a lot of sugar in such a little snack! You certainly wouldn’t sit with a spoon and a bag of sugar and just dig out 4 teaspoons and call it a “snack” so you probably shouldn’t be eating it in the form of a small granola bar either.
I’m also a pretty big believer in “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” There are a few exceptions, including quinoa and acai. Those should be eaten for sure!
The other problem with these processed granola bars is that I can easily eat about 6 of these pre-packaged bars at a time. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not really. They really don’t have the fiber, fat, and protein to help you feel full and stay full.
Lucky for you, I can help you not only make bars that are healthier and contain real food, but they will also be cheaper and cause less garbage in landfills. Win-win-win.
Let’s start with some basics for making your own bars at home.
Start with a hearty base.
Oats are a great option because they are filling and contain lots of fiber, which will help you stay full longer. You could also change it up and make bars using some oats mixed in with buckwheat groats, which are gluten free (despite the word “wheat” in their name!)
Add a natural sweetener.
My preferred sweeteners for granola bars are bananas, maple syrup, or raw honey. Fruit lends a natural sweetness and bananas are a perfect binder in granola bars. If you want something a little sweeter than what bananas can do, you could add a little honey or maple syrup as well, but no need to go overboard here. You aren’t trying to make a cake, you’re trying to make a satisfying snack!
Choose your mix-ins.
This is where the fun happens! Choose what you’d like to incorporate into your bars-- fresh berries, dried blueberries, dried figs, raisins, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all great options. Once you have a base, this part is very customizable. Have fun and play around with variations until you find your favorites!
Let’s get to it, shall we? I adapted this recipe from one I found on VegNews website. Hope you enjoy it and feel pride in how easy this is to do on your own at home!
Blueberry Granola Bars
¼ c flaxseed meal
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 heaping TBSP blueberry chia jam or blueberry preserves
2 TBSP almond butter
½ tsp vanilla
2 ¼ c oats
¼ c shredded coconut
½ tsp salt
1 c fresh blueberries
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix wet ingredients well. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Gently fold in blueberries until just mixed. Spread mixture into baking pan and score bars with a knife before baking. Bake 25-30 minutes until edges and top are golden. Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into bars. Store in airtight container, preferably in the refrigerator, to maintain freshness. Bars will last 1-2 weeks (unless you eat them all immediately!)