Sunday, January 31, 2010

Healthy Changes



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!

26 comments:

Fallon said...

These sound fabulous! I like that there isn't so much sugar. I've seen some "healthy" energy bars call for 1 cup of maple syrup, I just can't bring myself down to that!! I will bookmark these when I feel its time for something healthy other then baking fresh cookies and brownies ;)

Melinda said...

Excellent! I hear 5 of these make a great snack!

Jennifer Jo said...

When I make granola bars, I make a double batch---two 9 x 13 pans at one time. It makes a huge stash of bars, but I just wrap them individually and freeze them, and then they're ready any time. They're great for packed lunches or car rides.

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Maria said...

I LOVE these. I can't wait to try them. They are filled with healthy goodness!

Bellini Valli said...

Power Bars would be perfect for the grazing lifestyle we are supposed to have and a pick me up between meals.

Natalie said...

i love making homemade granola bars...i've done it a few different times and now i cannot stand the store-bought version. i love this variation of them!

Barbara said...

Homemade granola bars are the only way to go. The ones in the stores are awful and I swear I've tried them all. Only in an emergency!
Like the almond butter in yours. And love your comment about twigs. Sometimes you gotta wonder....shouldn't someone at that meeting stood up and said: maybe twig isn't such a good description of a breakfast cereal.

Elle said...

These sound to delish to be so healthy! I actually like those twigs and things, but it's true about how it sounds...sort of like calling lettuce and carrots bunny food, only worse.

Katie said...

These look delicious and packed full of tasty yummy healthy things. I bet they're great for breakfast

grace said...

taking a turn for the healthy--bravo. these bars are full of good stuff yet i'm sure they don't taste like cardboard, which would be bad. :)

Debbie said...

To actually have a healthy snack would be a big change here. They look so delicious. Have to tell you that I made your Texas Fudge cake and it was fantastic! I will probably post it later this week or next. Having lots of snow here lately leaves more time for baking...I wonder if that is a good thing??? lol...

Anonymous said...
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DessertObsessed said...

healthy! i definitely need to eat healthier and cut back on the sugar this year...haha

Abby said...

My little guy loves cereal bars, and of course they're an easy breakfast to give him, but they're so sugary. This would be a great alternative! (And the nuts are okay for us, but I know some moms steer clear of them with their toddlers.)

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The Blonde Duck said...

I'm so glad you made this. I had to cut back on sugar for a digestive condition and I've been looking for healthy snacks!

Peabody said...

What is this eating well thing you speak of? :P They look good actually.

vickys said...

Such an apt post! I woke up this morning and tried on my pants which ALWAYS fit. now they don't very well and I'm obviously trying to rectify that situation. These are much better than a cookie for tea!

Anne said...

now, this is what I want! thanks for sharing this recipe :-)

Daily Freebies said...

Great!! Nice work!

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bridezillabakes said...

Yum, I always crave those crunchy fiber twigs.....

:-) These look awesome -- and thanks for the tip on getting the ingredients at TJs! We are regulars there and it's nice to know that they have some of the quirkier (but healthier!) ingredients.

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Gonna have to make these for the b/f! He's just adapted a new "healthier" lifestyle! He wastes his money at 7-11 every morning buying Kashi crap! =/

Genie said...

Look forward to trying these too. Just found a recipe on all recipes that hubby loves and is of similar ilk. Very yummy and easy...

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jo-Anns-Power-Bars/Detail.aspx

Thanks for the recipe!

eatme_delicious said...

These look like the perfect snack! Have you seen the snack that's called "sticks and twigs"? I think it's made by Mary's.