Friday, January 25, 2013

Healthy Home | Super Easy, Healthy Snack Bars

One personal goal I am happy to say I have achieved is to reduce my usage of packaged foods. I'm not going to lie, there were probably times in my life where I could count on both hands the amount of packaged food items I would consume in a day. I'm happy to say that now, the packaged goods industry is lucky if I use even one a week.

I understand how convenient pre-packaged foods are. Not being a parent (yet), I can only imagine the time crunch when you have busy kids and the need for quick and easy solutions. That being said, I had no idea how simple making your own food and snacks could be, especially when you prepare a lot and preserve (either by way of freezing or canning).




 It's gotten to the point where packaged foods make me angry. Going to a New Years party bringing my favourite dip, I knew I needed something crunchy to dip in it. I walked down the cracker aisle, and was plain mad! A teeny box of baguette crackers (crostinis) were $4! Four dollars! The amount of crackers would probably amount to that of 1/4 a baguette. For $1, I can buy an entire baguette. And that's just what I did. Way less packaging, way less preservatives and random ingredients I can't pronounce, and way more bang for my buck. I sliced that baby all the way to crostini town, and with a short visit to the oven, they were perfect olive-oil brushed crackers ready for my dip. Now, clearly I haven't gone off the deep end and am still buying bakery bread, but who knows, one day I may even bake my own. The point here is, when you walk down those grocery aisles, really take in what you're seeing. What are you getting for your money? How much time are you actually saving? How much better would it feel to make your own and save money to boot?

Although I've never been a big consumer of granola or protein bars, I have a feeling that when I do have little ones, this will be a helpful, on the go snack to keep tummy grumbles at bay. And heck, there are certainly times where I don't have time for a proper brekky, and we all know that hunger leads to bad choices. There are lots of homemade protein/snack/granola bars on the Internet, but I decided to give it a whirl on my own to see what I could concoct with ingredients in my pantry. Best of all, if you want to recreate, I really think any substitutions here will work. I've tried variants of this recipe making single serve Larabar-esque treats in my Nutribullet and everything I've thrown in there still tastes good. This was my first time making a larger batch, however, so I used my handy dandy Cuisinart food processor.

The best part? Just throw it all in (less the moist ingredients) and go! I wanted to add some protein-boosting hemp hearts to my energy bars, but they do add a little hempy flavour. Feel free to omit these if you don't like hemp hearts or don't have any on hand, and the result will almost taste like cookie dough. For reals. These bars with the hemp hearts and flax seeds actually remind me of a grain bar at Starbucks... can't remember the name of it but it's mighty tasty!

"Everything but the Kitchen Sink" Healthy Snack Bars

Ingredients:

Dry

1/2 cup rolled oats (I used gf)
1/3 cup quinoa flakes (may sub more rolled oats)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup cashews
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup chia, flax, buckwheat blend
5 tbsp hemp hearts
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash of sea salt

Moist/Wet

1 cup (125 grams) dates - honey or medjool- soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract


Like I said, sub away! Use almonds, poppy seeds, raisins, whatever your pantry desires! I usually use medjool dates, but was running low so used the honey dates I store in the freezer for date emergencies. If you don't include dates on your grocery list, you don't know what you're missing. I use them every single day! I also don't buy sugar anymore. It's revolutionary!


Directions: 

To make, throw all of the dry ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until you get a grainy meal. When I use my Nutribullet milling blade I get a finer consistency, which is great for dessert balls and treats, however the grainier texture the food processor gives is better for a bar in my opinion.


Afterwards, drain the dates that you should soak while prepping the dry ingredients, and add to mixture with the vanilla extract. Pulse again to start, then leave on to process for 30-60 seconds. It's pretty fool proof so just pulse to desired consistency.



Lay your dough in a plastic wrap lined square casserole dish and push flat. Cover with more plastic wrap, push again, and put in freezer for half an hour. Remove, and cut into 12 squares or rectangles. AT this point, leave as is, or wrap each one individually. Store in the freezer unless you plan on gobbling them up within the week. I'm sure they'd last longer but just to be on the safe side.


Very very rough nutritional info per 1/12 of the mix is:

180 calories
10 grams healthy fats
5 grams fiber
5.25 grams protein
Carbs don't matter because, I just don't think they do (however can be easily calculated using process of elimination. Note: 1 gram fat = 9 cals, 1 gram protein or carb = 4 cals... handy info to know!).


Also, these bars are very moist/sticky (think Larabars), so could easily be stretched (I'd venture to say, doubled) by upping the oats. This will make them even more affordable and extra kid-friendly. Unfortunately, I ran out of oats so this was all I could do. The next batch I make I will try more oats and let you know how it works!



And for those wierdos like me, these are gluten-free, oil-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and raw.


11 comments:

  1. Um...YUM. I will be making these when my latest box of Larabars runs out!

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    1. There are recipes all over the internet to recreate any flavour of Larabars! And they're unreal! My personal preference is to process them more because I like them less chunky than the real deal :)

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  2. I was shopping the other day also ,at my local grocery store and its funny because I was getting angry too. I just couldnt find very much on the shelves, that were free of artificial ingredients, and stuff in the food, that I could not even pronounce. I do not want my family eating that garbage either. Everything I picked up had a paragraph of bad ingredients. Even a loaf of bread. $3.49, for a bunch of bha, high fructose corn syrup, the list went on and on.No thank you! I want to try these yummy bars. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Exactly! It's nice to know what you're putting in yours and your family's bodies! Give these a go! So simple and I've been snacking on them all week when I need a quick energy boost!

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    2. Thanks for the recipe - I couldn't agree more!

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  3. Jen, I just took your home tour and it is sooooo pretty! Love it1 Just wondering if you could tell me what the paint color/brand you used in your living areas. The pretty light gray? Thanks!!!

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    1. Hi Carol Jane! Thanks for popping by! The colour in the dining/kitchen is Behr Rhino. It is a hard coulour to describe, but I would call it muddy-grey with blue/green undertones? Our living room is just white (Oxford white). Hope that answers your questions!

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  4. Hi Jen,
    I do have three kids and this is exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for so i have some easy to grab snacks that I don't have to pay a fortune for. THANK YOU! I found you via Pinterest and was draw into your blog because of the clean, light feel and your down to earth writing. Thanks again...and now I'm off to think about what containers need for my pantry ;)
    Alissa

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    1. Hi Alissa! So happy to hear! If you try these let me know what you think! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. It's free from anything! Haha! But, sure is healthy! Sometimes, I get a hard time looking for some of these ingredients in our local grocery store. Can you give me more recipes or possible alternatives to some of the products listed here? Consumers should always inspect the packaging of whatever they’re buying. Sometimes, there's a lot of "big words" for people to understand and that we know little about. By having all -natural recipes like this, then I can be assured that whatever my family's eating, they are safe and free from anything artificial.

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  6. I have recently fallen in love with dates. I still prefer raisins but I'm wondering how a combo would do in this recipe. I will be trying it...and let you know! New follower from Pinterest. Hope you check out my site: www.notsopaleo.com

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Thanks so much for your comment! You made my day :)