26 Sep 2011
I still remember the moment, nearly ten years ago, when I received a life-altering slap in the face about our food supply. I was embarking on a strictly dairy-free future, and my husband and I were at the grocery store looking for something to eat.
From my teenage years on, I considered myself a healthy eater. I liked fruits and vegetables, I took classes like nutrition for fun, and I read food labels. Well, I read the health claims and the nutrition facts at least. That was really all I needed to know, right? But suddenly, I found myself face to face with the ingredients statements. This was new territory for me, and in searching for milk-based ingredients, I learned some horrifying truths behind those packaged foods.
The rude awakening came with a “simple” jar of pasta sauce. I picked it up and began casually reading the ingredients. My eyes widened, “Chemical preservatives, ‘flavors,’ and three different sweeteners? Why on earth do they need to put all of those things in tomato sauce?” My husband had no response. We had both naively assumed that pasta sauce was just crushed tomatoes and some spices. We moved onto the whole grain oat bread that I loved; hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, enriched flour, and BHT … back onto the shelf it went. This scenario went on and on for over an hour as we searched for something that was made with real food.
We left the grocery store with a cart that was nearly empty, but it was on that day that I began learning how to cook and bake with whole food ingredients. Only “clean” short-cut foods like organic brown rice cereal were going to be allowed in my kitchen.
This might sound daunting at first, but now whipping up my own convenience food recipes, like a big batch of granola bars, is actually fun, quick, and easy! Just 20 minutes, and we have snack bars for the week.
Plus, which would you rather feed yourself and your family?
Popular Brand Chewy Granola Bars (Chocolate Chip): Granola (Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Sugar, Rice Flour, Whole Grain Rolled Wheat, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils With TBHQ and Citric Acid Added to Preserve Freshness and/or Sunflower Oil With Natural Tocopherol Added to Preserve Freshness, Whole Wheat Flour, Molasses, Sodium Bicarbonate, Soy Lecithin, Caramel Color, Barley Malt, Salt, Nonfat Dry Milk), Corn Syrup, Crisp Rice (Rice, Sugar, Salt, Barley, Malt), Semisweet Chocolate Chunks (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin [An Artificial Flavor]), Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Glycerin, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Sorbitol, Fructose, Calcium Carbonate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Molasses, Water, BHT (A Preservative), Citric Acid.
Homemade Chewy Granola Bars (Chocolate Chip): Uncle Sam’s (Whole Wheat Kernels, Whole Flaxseed, Barley Malt), Unsweetened Coconut, Dark Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter), Honey, Flax Seeds, Salt.
I thought you’d see it my way. Enjoy …
Chewy Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
For a gluten-free option, feel free to substitute Erewhon Organic Brown Rice Cereal for the Uncle Sam’s. If oats are okay for you, you can even use half gluten-free oats and half brown rice cereal.
- 2 Tablespoons Flax Seeds
- 2 Cups Uncle Sam’s Original Whole Grain Cereal
- 3/4 Cup Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
- 1/3 to 1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Honey, Maple Syrup, or Brown Rice Syrup (I use honey)
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and generously grease an 8×8-inch baking pan (I use glass).
Grind the flax seeds into a powder in a spice / coffee grinder (about 30 seconds). In a mixing bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed, cereal, coconut, chocolate chips, and salt. Pour the honey over top, and gently stir to incorporate everything.
Gently press the mixture evenly into your pan. I use a small piece of plastic wrap between my hands and the mixture as I press to keep it from sticking to my fingers. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. I bake for the full 20 minutes, and it browns a bit around the edges, but I like this.
Place the pan on a wire rack and let it cool almost completely. Either cut the bars in the pan, or turn the mixture out onto a cutting board and cut into squares or bars. The mixture firms up quite a bit as it cools, so don’t cut into them too soon, or they will crumble.
If you store them in the refrigerator, they firm up quite a bit, but I like them this way. To keep them soft and chewy, store them in a sealed container at room temperature. They should keep for a few days.
-Makes 9 to 12 whole grain cereal squares or bars
AlisaCheck out my latest posts here