Quick announcement: Healthy Indulgences now has a Twitter @ indulgehealthy (add me, er… follow me?)
These are not your typical granola bars. What’s so special about ’em? Look closely…
You don’t see any oats, do you? Or sugar. I know you can’t see there’s no sugar, but I promise you it’s not there (okay, so there’s 1 tiny teaspoon of honey in the whole recipe!). Low carbers and gluten-free eaters, take heart. These snack bars are sure to satisfy your craving for this formerly forbidden treat.
What’s so tempting about granola, and why might it not be the healthiest snack? For starters, it tastes like candy! Looking at the label, it’s easy to see why. Granola is chock full of honey (sugar), brown sugar (sugar), crisp rice (starch), dried fruit (sugar), oats (starch) and canola oil (fat). Granola bars are carbs, carbs, and more carbs, glued together with processed fat. Sounds like a recipe for a high-GI junk food, doesn’t it?
And yet, granola bars are touted as “all natural” and full of “whole grains,” so we feel less guilty reaching for one of these innocent treats versus a candy bar. Interestingly enough, per gram, a Snickers bar has 3 less grams of sugar than those Nature Valley granola bars in the vending machines! At least the Snickers has peanuts and cocoa butter, for some protein and healthful saturated fat. While neither of these are great snack choices, it makes you think, doesn’t it?
Oats (certified gluten-free, if you’re gluten intolerant) are not inherently unhealthy. I even use a little oat flour in low carb pancakes and pie crust for structure and chew. It’s just that eating a whole bowl of oatmeal for breakfast might not be the best for weight loss, unless you’re going for a morning run.
The granola bars you see below and at the top of this post are made from nuts, seeds, and other wholesome ingredients. This recipe is super flexible. Just use what you have on hand! You could make these paleo friendly by nixing the xylitol, and adding a bit more honey. Most importantly, they won’t give you that fat-storing blood sugar surge. And yes, they still taste like candy.
A little chewy and a little crunchy, these bars taste just as good as the store bought kind.
Healthy Granola Bars (Low Carb, Gluten-and Grain-Free)
Makes 4 bars
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon xylitol
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon pepitas
1 Tablespoon finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 Tablespoon cacao nibs (can replace with more nuts/seeds/etc)
1 teaspoon flax seed meal
2 Tablespoons coconut milk powder (available at Asian grocery stores)
1/16 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/16 teaspoon sea salt
1/16 teaspoon NuNaturals pure white stevia extract
Use a small to medium sized food processor for this. Add almonds and pecans to processor bowl, and pulse 8-10 times. You don’t want any large chunks visible. Add sunflower seeds, pepitas, coconut, cacao nibs, flax seed meal, coconut milk powder, xanthan gum, sea salt, and stevia. Replace lid, and pulse 3-5x, until pepitas have been chopped up a bit.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (300 for convection ovens). Line the bottom of a 8 by 4″ loaf pan with a rectangle of parchment paper. Heat honey and xylitol in a small saucepan over medium heat until you see tiny bubbles forming in the honey mixture. It usually only takes a minute or two for the xylitol to dissolve. Wait one minute after xylitol has dissolved, then take honey mixture off heat and stir in vanilla with your silicone spatula. Quickly, scrape hot liquid from pan into dry mixture, and stir around vigorously with spatula until mixture is evenly coated. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of loaf pan with spatula. Bake for 10 minutes (7 minutes, 30 seconds in convection ovens). Remove bars from oven, let cool a couple minutes, and invert slab carefully on to cutting board. Cut into four pieces (across, and then across once more) with a sharp knife. Remold the corners as necessary if a few crumbs break off. Slide bars, bottom side up, on to metal pan. Bake for 9 more minutes (7 minutes for convection oven). Remove from oven, and place bars on cooling rack. Store in zip top bags in the refrigerator. Once the bars are completely cooled, they’ll hold together nicely.
~159 calories per bar
~5.5g net carbs per bar
It feels so good to be finished with college! I having been baking up a storm, getting back into my creative cooking groove. Stay tuned for a barrage of summer treats comin’ at ya. Your requests have been very helpful in steering me towards new recipes to make over! Some informational “FAQ” posts requested by readers concerning sugar-free sweeteners (erythritol, xylitol and stevia, yay!) are also in the works.
The triumphant graduate, ready to face the world
I have a question for y’all, concerning Twitter – How do you use Twitter for in your daily life (or for healthy cooking chatter)? Are you part of the craze? Let me know in the comments!