Snacking is a real pet peeve and I am on a constant look out for yummy healthy snacks. It was during this treasure hunt that I stumbled upon granola bars. Considered a healthy on-the-go breakfast and snack option, the ones available in the store like all things processed are not as good as they sound or taste. Lucky for me a dear friend who is an A grade baker gifted me a box of the yummiest and very filling homemade healthy granola bars. Ten days later when I had steadily finished all of it, I realized it’s time I gave the recipes a try.
Major ingredients are oats, peanut butter and almonds. Here are some quick facts about their benefits
Peanut butter (stop the alarm bells ringing in your head) is a super source of protein. It is great for building and repairing muscles, which is especially important if you work out. Now for the big one, it is heart friendly! Yup it is filled with monosaturated fats (it falls in the healthy fats category like olive oil and avocado) that prevents heart diseases and it does not get stored as FAT! (read on monosaturated fats) . For the calorie counting fanatics here goes: Two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter contain 188 calories, 8 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs and 16 grams of fat.
Oats is THE grain of this century, it lowers your cholesterol levels and has plenty of good dietary fiber. It has a unique property called beta glucan which help to control your blood sugar levels. Oats is low in calorie count, but gives you good energy and you stay full for longer. Plus it’s full of B vitamins, which support healthy metabolism; calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, to keep your bones strong. I sometimes have a quarter cup of cooked oats as a 4pm snack mixed with a few almonds -keeps me going until the workday is done!
Almonds just like peanut butter and oats gives high energy and you feel full longer. Secondly, it also controls cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They are packed with high quality protein, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and many essential amino acids. You can also get copper, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and healthy fats from almonds.
Now that we know the three major ingredients are all healthy and extremely good for us, but a word of caution this does not mean you can consume vast quantities a day. 1/2 cup of oats, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a handful of almonds is recommended.
Finally the granola bars and the recipe: Both of them have all healthy, tasty ingredients with NO added sugar, but honey and some dark chocolate for the sweetness instead.
Honey-Sweetened Almond Chocolate Chip Granola Bars ( recipe taken from Cookie + Kate read here for details, below is the edited version)Chewy, no-bake, gluten-free granola bars is so delicious and takes around 15 minutes to make ( even for a newbie like me)
INGREDIENTS ( for 14-16 bars)
- 1¾ cups oats
- 1⅓ cup sliced almonds
- ⅔ cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- Line an 8 inch square baking pan with two strips of criss-crossed butter paper, cut to size. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds, and chocolate chips Whisk to combine.
- Put the peanut butter in a bowl. Top with honey and the vanilla essence. Whisk until well blended.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a big spoon to mix them together until the two are evenly combined and no dry oats remain.
The drier the mixture, the more firm the bars will be, so stir in extra oats if the mixture seems wet.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared square baker. Use your spoon to arrange the mixture fairly evenly in the baker, then use the bottom of a flat, round surface (like a short, sturdy drinking glass), covered in a small piece of parchment paper to pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible.
- Cover the pan and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. Use a sharp knife to slice the bars.
HEALTHY 5-INGREDIENT GRANOLA BARS ( for those of you who like the fruity ones, recipe taken from Minimalistic Baker read for details)
1 cup packed pitted dates
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup roasted almonds, loosely chopped (look online to see how to roast almonds or otherwise just leave them raw)
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- Process dates in the mixie until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency. (mine rolled into a ball)
- Place oats, almonds and dates in a bowl – set aside.
- Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
- Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8 square dish baking pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
- Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
- Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days.
Whether you are an expert in the kitchen or not these recipes are quick, easy to make and totally kitchen disaster free (I tried them). Remember anything homemade is always better and healthier so avoid the packaged stuff and try this one at home. Granola bars are a super grab and go snack and the homemade ones leave you feeling full and satisfied.