Put Down that Granola Bar!

I am often asked to recommend a good granola bar or energy bar, both of which, have long been touted as health food. I am not saying an occasional granola bar will take you from perfect health to unhealthy, but if these bars are a part of your regular diet, extreme intervention is needed.

Bars are made for back packers, long trail runners and bikers; not for accountants commuting to work or parents driving their kids to soccer practice. Bars are light weight energy and nutrition sources for specific time and events, not daily activities.

Granola bars, energy bars, protein bars whatever the marketing company is calling them these days, are pretty much all glorified candy bars.

granola bar 1

Bars as meal replacements:

Many of these packaged bars are between 250 and 400 kCal making them high enough in calories to replace a meal completely. Many of them are fortified with vitamins and minerals to give the illusion of healthy diet, but don’t be fooled. What you get from real food is so much more. You may eat carrots because they are high in Vitamin A, but that is not all a carrot has to offer. Carrots also offer fiber, water, Vitamins B & C, magnesium, iron and calcium. Not to mention flavor, crunch and belly filling satisfaction.

Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods

Bars are made up of sugar, fat and protein like all foods but in the most processed forms. Pure sugar bound together with a few nuts and isolated protein, sprinkled with a multi-vitamin does not a nutritious meal make.

granola  bar 3

If you follow Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions and The Weston A. Price Foundation’s nutrition principals, they state that all processed, extruded grain products are unhealthy, dead foods. Essentially all of the nutrition has been processed out of the food.

I went online and tried to find a granola bar recipe to recommend so that my clients could make something at home, only to find more of the same. Most of the granola bar recipes online are loaded with sugar, chocolate chips, dried fruits, all types of sugar syrups (agave, brown rice, molasses, maple, honey etc) and they were all well over 200 kCal. Most of them had the word ‘healthy’ in the titles,  HMMMM? Don’t quite understand how they arrived at that title.

So I decided I needed to make my own granola bar recipe. I have been playing around with the recipe a bit and this is what I have so far:

Cocoa Almond Date Bars tara granola bar 1

1 lb. sprouted almonds, finely chopped in a food processor (fat and protein)

½ cup peanut or almond butter (fat and protein)

2 TBSP. coconut oil (fat)

¾ 8 oz package chopped dates (sugar, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals)

2 TBSP raw, organic cocoa knibs (antioxidants)

¼  tsp. ground cinnamon (antioxidants)

½ tsp. vanilla

½ cup Puffed Farro: puffed rice (aka. rice krispies) is a common ingredient that adds bulk, crunch and calories, but not much else, so I made my own from ancient grains. See recipe below. (carbohydrate, B-vitamins, dietary fiber)

Process with a food processor until the mixture starts to hold together. A little water can help with binding. Once thoroughly processed, press into a 9×13 pan. Let sit in a cool place for 30 minutes to set up.

Cut into 20 pieces

Approximately: 160 Calories, 8 g. sugar, 4.5 g protein, 3 g fiber


Puffed Farro

1 cup ancient grain faro

2 cups water

Put grain and water in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. The faro should be half cooked. Drain. Shake off excess water. Adapted from Boston Magazine.

Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Allow to dry in the oven for a few hours. Turn the oven on to 500 degrees. Put the cookie sheet of faro in the oven for 3-5 minutes so that the faro puffs up but doesn’t get too browned.

Ready to be added to salads, yogurt, or granola bars.

Companies use health food claims to sell products. These health food claims are often not the whole story. If you struggle with what, how, and when to eat, I can help. Contact Tara today.