Sunday, January 31, 2010
January was the month for starting fresh, making good choices, and committing to taking care of yourself. I'm all for that. But it's always easier to make the resolution than to keep it up. February is the month of follow-through for the resolutions, and that can be a lot tougher.
I have many healthy habits already in place (exercising, cutting back on diet Coke, eating more veggies), but I know I have room for improvement. Certainly, when Mr. White Flour and Mrs. White Sugar are your best friends, there is room for improvement.
Now, don't get alarmed! I'm not swearing off my best friends. We've shared so much quality time together, I know we won't be strangers. But I can make better choices when I'm reaching for a quick something on my way out the door. Something that won't spike my blood sugar level and leave me lethargic in an hour. Something that doesn't contain enough preservatives to keep it "shelf fresh" for two years. And something that gives my body the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
Meet my new friend, the Power Bar. No, not the kind you buy at the store in a package. These are homemade, customized, and need to be refrigerated because they have no preservatives (but I'd feel OK keeping them out for the same length of time that you'd have a peanut butter sandwich unrefrigerated.) With all the antioxidant berries in them, I think I'll call them Berry Powerful Bars. Crammed full of healthy nuts, nut oils, seeds, rolled oats, and dried fruit, these bars will give you the power to cruise through your day. Plus they're super easy to make. You could even have your kids help you. But if you do that, you know they'll want some, and then there's less for you. Oh well, I guess if you want your kids to have healthy snacks, too....
Berry Powerful Bars
- adapted from Eating Well
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseeds, preferably golden
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened whole-grain puffed cereal (see Note)
1 cup assorted dried fruits (blueberries, cranberries, cherries, golden raisins)
1/4 cup creamy almond butter
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square pan with cooking spray.
2- Spread oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the oats are lightly toasted and the nuts are fragrant, shaking the pan halfway through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cereal and dried fruit; toss to combine.
3-Combine almond butter, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles lightly, 2 to 5 minutes.
4- Immediately pour the almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula until no dry spots remain. Transfer to the prepared pan. Using a silicone spatula, press the mixture down firmly to make an even layer (wait until the mixture cools slightly if necessary). Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes; cut into 8 bars.
Note: I used Kashi Go Lean, which says on the front that it has "crunchy fiber twigs." Really? What marketing genius thought that was a selling point for a cereal? Have you ever gone to the store, hoping to find some crunchy fiber twigs for breakfast? I hope not.
Another note: All of the ingredients for this I purchased at Trader Joe's. Not that I'm paid to tell you that, I just thought you might want to know that it's not that tough to get all of those items you might not have in your pantry.
Just one more note: If you work for Trader Joe's corporate office and want to pay me to tell people things like I just did, please feel free to contact me any time!