The variety of different granola and energy bars available to us prepackaged is so enormous one wonders why we would feel the need to make our own at all. But looking at the nutrition facts and ingredients on most of these bars we discover that they are often very high in sugar and contain a very long list of ingredients.
Once you see how easy it is to make these at home, you will peruse the bars at the store more for inspiration.
Granola Bars are a food that is often considered inherently healthy, but in reality they are usually highly processed and full of sugar. For even healthier granola bars, you will have to turn to baking, as the fruit purees you can use to cut back on the sugar won’t set if used in a no bake bar. However, these aren’t so bad and all the whole grains, nuts and seeds really boost the nutrient density of these bars. Their texture is similar to the popular Quakers granola bars but they are much more filling and much less sweet.
You will note that the recipe mentions flax seed meal as opposed to whole flax seeds. This is because the oily exterior of the flax seed doesn’t break down when digested unless it has been soaked overnight. Grinding the flax seed into a meal makes the nutrients more bioavailable.
2 cups puffed brown rice
2 cups rolled oats
¾ cup seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame, flax seed meal or a combination)
½ cup nuts (any combination, toasted if you wish)
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup mixed dried fruit, chopped if needed
½ cup coconut oil or butter
¼ cup coconut or brown sugar
¼ cup honey
½ tsp salt
¼- ½ cup chopped dark chocolate
Combine the rice cereal, oats, seeds, nuts, chia seeds, and fruit in a large mixing bowl. Combine the oil or butter with the sugar, honey and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes and then carefully pour over the dry mix. Stir until it is all evenly coated and let it sit for about 5minutes to cool slightly. While it is cooling, prepare a 9x13 baking dish by oiling it lightly and lining with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Mix in the chocolate and immediately press into the prepared pan. Use damp or oily hands to press the mixture in firmly. You can also use a jar or the bottom of a pan to help out too, just oil it first or your granola bar mixture will stick.
Cover and chill for at least an hour. Cut into bars and store in a bag in the fridge. Individually wrap them if you want to be able to grab one as you run out the door. You can also freeze these. They defrost pretty quickly, so if you grab one out in the morning, by the time you are ready to eat it with lunch or as an afternoon snack it should be defrosted.
Store bought energy bars rely heavily on carbs and protein (in the form of whey or plant based protein powders) and a bit of fat to give you energy, with a healthy dose of sugar thrown in. In the past few years it has become more common to see raw energy bars containing mostly nuts, dried fruits and seeds. All these ingredients are energy powerhouses and are much more effective at keeping you full and energized between meals. Our energy bars are based on these. They key is to have equal parts dates, dried fruit and nuts, or at least dates and nuts. The dates are the sweetener of the bars and their sticky texture is what holds it all together.
1 cup dates, pitted
1 cup nuts, any kind
1 cup dried fruit, any kind
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup other mixed seeds
½ cup cocoa powder (optional)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (optional- the extra fat helps with energy and also makes the bar taste richer)
Pinch of salt
Pulse the dates, nuts and dried fruit in the food processor until finely chopped. If you squeeze a bit it should stay together. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until just combined. Press into a lined 8x8 pan and chill for at least an hour before cutting into bars. Store the bars individually wrapped in the fridge.
Want more chocolate? Either pulse in about a ¼ - ½ cup of chocolate chips or melt some chocolate and spread it over the top like an icing.