Ever bother looking at the ingredient list on the back of a box of store bought granola bars? How many of the ingredients are actually real food..? Most likely not very many. I’m willing to bet refined sugar is one of the FIRST ingredients followed by a lengthy list of additives like soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, BHT, caramel coloring and other artificial colors.That’s why when you can, it’s best not to always depend too heavily on processed snack foods no matter how “healthy” they market themselves as. Food companies use deceptive advertising to help sell their product. After all, the food industry is a billion dollar business. But trust me when I say they definitely do not have our health and best interest in mind!
Let’s take fiber and protein for example. Everyone knows that dietary fiber and protein are important components of our diets. Fiber and protein rich foods can aid in weight loss by increasing satiety and helping to control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. However, the fiber and protein found in most protein bars and granola bars likely originate in a lab and not from nature. These bars also come with a dose of refined sugar which can create opposite effects.
I encourage getting naturally occurring fiber from plant based foods like whole fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts and seeds as opposed to the synthetic or “functional” fiber added to most processed foods. Our bodies know what to do with real food. Artificial ingredients are foreign to our bodies and many of these ingredients are banned for use in other countries, deemed too harmful! (Yikes). I will get off my soap box now but just remember that people have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries. Processed foods were only recently invented and I’m compelled as a dietitian to recommend food that supports optimal health 😉
If you have a little extra time, these homemade no bake granola bars can replace those store bought bars. They contain only whole food ingredients, packed full of plant based protein and fiber. Each bar contains approximately 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. They’re fairly simple to make and create a tasty addition to your lunchbox for a quick snack during the day!
Homemade Granola Bars (8 bars)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup of gluten free oats
1/2 cup of organic raisins (no sugar added)
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed
1/2 cup of organic honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt
1. Chop nuts into small pieces.
2. Combine all dry ingredients together in bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, combine honey and almond butter. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds, stirring half way through.
4. Combine honey mixture with dry ingredients and combine until all ingredients are wet.
5. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and form mixture into a rectangle on the baking sheet. Use hands to press mixture flat. Should be approximately 1/4 inch in thickness.
6. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to harden.
7. Using a knife or pizza slicer, cut into 8 even bars.
Note: You can also try lightly toasting the nuts and oats first on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 6-10 minutes. Bars are best if kept in refrigerator for up to 5 days.