School Snacks! Healthy, Chewy, Granola Bars.

Granola bars are one of the snacks of choice for many children, and adults too.  They are convenient, they taste good, and they fill you up.  But are they healthy?  Most granola bars are high in sugar and salt and in many cases, contain high fructose corn syrup.  Lots of granola bars contain soy ingredients, and most, unless they specify it or are certified organic, contain genetically modified ingredients.  They are also individually wrapped in plastic or foil which is unsustainable and adds unnecessary waste to the landfills.  Fortunately, they are easy to make, can be made with less sugar and salt than commercial bars, and can contain wholesome, natural ingredients. 

Until recently I haven’t made a granola bar that ALL of my kids enjoy ALL OF THE TIME.  But now I have, and this recipe is so flexible you can change the flavour easily by adding different fruits, nuts, seeds, and more.  These bars hold together nicely, are sweet enough to keep the children coming back for more, and are low enough in sugar to make most moms happy.

For this recipe I have used organic sunflower seed butter.  Sunflower seed butter is higher in protein than peanut butter, has a great flavour, and is generally safe to send to nut-free schools.  It is low in saturated fats, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and high in vitamins, especially vitamin B.  Click here for more information on the health benefits of sunflower seeds.  Rather than adding a highly-processed protein powder to make a protein bar, this bar is naturally and safely high in protein.  With grains from the organic oats, protein from the seeds and seed butter and fruit from the dried fruit, this bar is pretty much a complete meal and a great snack for anyone.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. rolled oats or multigrain cereal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. oat flour
  • 1/2 c. crisp rice cereal
  • 1/4 c. demerara cane sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 c. total of assorted nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate chips etc. I use dried cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, dried apricots etc.
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seed butter

Directions

  1. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl or 2 cup glass measuring cup, combine wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Combine wet with dry and mix well.
  4. Press very firmly into a well-greased 8×12 inch or 8×8 inch baking dish.
  5. Press again with a flat, firm object to compact it even more.
  6. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until it is starting to turn golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
  8. Press carefully and firmly once more with flat, firm object to compact the bars further.
  9. Cut into pieces before it totally cools.
  10. Do not remove from pan until it is cool to the touch.
  11. Store in an air-tight container.

Tips:

  • If you want to decrease the sugar, take out the demerarra sugar first.  The honey and seed butter are what holds the bar together.
  • Feel free to substitute the seed butter for nut butter if allergies aren’t an issue.
  • Coconut oil can be replaced with melted butter or another cooking oil of your choice.
  • Heating up the wet ingredients a bit helps them combine.
  • This recipe doubles nicely and can still fit in an 8×12 inch baking dish.
  • To guarantee these to be GMO-free, choose certified organic ingredients or ingredients labelled GMO-free.

This recipe is adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Quaker Style Chewy Granola Bar recipe.

This post has been linked to Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday October 2nd, Turning The Clock Back’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, Fresh Eggs Daily’s Farm Girl Blog Fest #3, Homestead Barn Hop#82 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days Sustainable Ways #47.

Oat Flour Vegetable Crackers Recipe

We hardly ever have crackers in the house.  Not because I have anything against healthy, wholesome crackers, but because every time I look at them in the grocery store I think to myself “I can make those” and I pass them over.  Then I go home and don’t make them.  Crackers aren’t hard to make, but if you have kids in the house who would eat them like chips given the opportunity, they are hard to keep in stock.

A lot of commercial crackers contain preservatives, artificial color or flavour, and possibly high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.  They are for the most part, just another processed food.  They don’t have to be though.  Tasty crackers can be made from good, wholesome ingredients as well.  This recipe tastes something like vegetable crackers, but the ingredients are much more simple.  Check out Nabisco Vegetable Thins.

Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), CANOLA AND/OR SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM AND/OR PALM KERNEL AND/OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL,  DEHYDRATED VEGETABLE BLEND (CONTAINS CARROTS, ONIONS, CELERY, RED BELL PEPPER, CABBAGE, TOMATO, PARSLEY), SUGAR, SALT, LEAVENING (MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA), DEXTROSE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ONION POWDER, HYDROLYZED SOY AND WHEAT PROTEIN, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), NATURAL FLAVOR, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, DISODIUM GUANYLATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER).

NOT good.  MSG, HFCS, Trans fats, artificial color and flavor.  Try this recipe that contains nothing but good, wholesome ingredients!

Homemade vegetable seasoning. Dehydrate then grind the vegetables to a powder. Green onions, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½  to 1 3/4 c. oat flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  •  ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. water
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • salt to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk first  6 ingredients together.
  3. Cut butter into dry mixture with a pastry cutter until it is pea-sized and crumbly.
  4. Mix water and vanilla together.  Toss into dry mixture with a fork until dough makes a ball.  If dough is too sticky add more flour by the Tbsp. as needed.
  5. With a sheet of parchment paper over top, roll out dough on a baking stone (or on any cookie sheet, but with parchment underneath as well.)  Roll as thin as you can.
  6. Sprinkle with salt as desired.
  7. Cut into squares.
  8. Bake at 400F for about 8-10 minutes or until crackers are starting to turn golden and getting firmer.  Don’t bake them so long they crumble!
  9. Cool a few minutes on baking sheet then using a metal flipper, transfer to cooling rack and cool fully.

Notes:

  • This recipe can be made with whole wheat or spelt flour in place of oat flour.
  • To make a plainer version of this cracker omit the vegetable seasoning and sesame seeds.
  • I make my own vegetable seasoning by dehydrating and then blending to a powder vegetables such as green onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and more.

Adapted from Kitchen Stewardship’s Cracker Recipe.

This post has been shared on The Morristribe’s Homesteader Carnival #17.