Homemade granola bars are well worth your time in the kitchen. Quick and simple to put together, a weekend batch can provide you with satisfying snacks for the week, workout fuel or grab-and-go options for breakfasts on the run. Why DIY? Because doing it yourself gives you complete control over the quality of your ingredients, allowing you to keep it real and keep it simple. This concept is especially important for the foods you consume on a daily basis, granola bars being a good example.
The granola bar section of the grocery store can be a nutritional land mine full of seemingly “good-for-you” products, that well, aren’t. Distracting health claims, trendy nutrients and clever packaging can make the savviest of customers choose a candy bar in disguise, thinking they’ve made the healthful choice. In fact, often lurking in these bars is the not-so-healthy trio of excess sugar, saturated fat and hydrogenated oils.
Today’s post is about encouraging you to DIY and getting you motivated about the goodness of homemade. But first, here are some pointers to help you navigate the granola bar section of your grocery store, just in case.
What to look for
- The first ingredient should be a whole grain, nut or seed.
- A filling snack that contains fibre: Aim for at least 3 g and protein: Aim for at least 3 g
- Low sugar: Aim for under 6 g sugars. If the bar contains dried fruit, aim for under 12 g.
- Low in saturated fat: Aim for less than 1g saturated fat and 0 g trans fats
- Most importantly: Look for a tasty bar with few and simple ingredients!
What to avoid
- Bars with chocolate or yogurt coatings
- Added sugars at the top of the ingredient list: sugar, glucose-fructose, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, malt syrup..
- Refined grains
- Hydrogenated oils, palm oil or refined coconut oil
Always look beyond health claims and front of package labelling before putting an item into your grocery cart. Use the nutrition facts panel and ingredient lists to guide all your choices.
Almond, date & orange granola bars
Makes: 10 bars Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 22 minutes
- ½ cup almonds, whole
- 2 cups quick cooking oats
- 6 dates, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F (190°C)
2. In a dry pan, toast almonds for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
3. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, chia seeds, chopped dates and almond butter. Crumble mixture with your fingers to incorporate almond butter evenly.
4. In a small saucepan, combine honey, orange juice, orange zest and cinnamon. Whisk over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until warm and runny.
5. Pour the warm honey mixture over the oats and stir with spatula until well combined.
6. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and drop mixture onto one half of it. With wet hands, flatten and form the granola into a rectangle, approximately 6″X10″ in size and 1/4 inch in thickness. Using the parchment paper and the sides of the sheet pan to guide you, pack the granola firmly with your hands and tighten the edges. Pressing firmly at this stage will ensure the granola bars will hold together nicely when done.
7. Place into the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until nicely golden brown.
8. Let cool completely before slicing. Use a serrated knife and slice into 10 even bars.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also freeze your bars, put them in your lunch bag frozen and they’ll be perfectly thawed by your midday snack!
Per bar Calories: 208 Total fat: 9g Protein: 6g Fibre: 5g
Are you willing to DIY with granola bars? Does your pantry have candy bars in disguise?