A recent Channel 10 expose about the dearth of healthy ingredients in granola bars surprised many people who naturally assumed that the various “‘energy” and “health” bar snacks they were consuming and packing in their children’s lunchboxes had some nutritional value. In reality, however, these bars are not much better than candy bars. In fact, according to nutritionist Olga Raz, they are candy bars.
The broadcast reported that some schools in Israel recently initiated a “no candy” policy to help combat obesity. Rather than bring pure chocolate bars to school, kids these days are packing granola bars, but often with chocolate or candy coatings.
“Virtually all of these bars contain an inordinate amount of sugar,” said Raz, “but it doesn’t always appear as sugar on the label, which confuses people. Ingredients like glucose, high fructose corn syrup and barley malt are just all different forms of sugar, and ultimately that’s primarily what we’re getting when we eat them.”
The bars may provide instant energy, but it’s the kind of energy that drops within a short period of time.
If, moreover, they are manufactured in the US, and they contain grains grown in America, there’s a good chance they contain genetically modified ingredients, tainted with pesticides and weed-killers like Monsanto’s infamous Round Up, or glyphosate. Others contain questionable fats and artificial flavors.
While manufacturers have spent millions convincing us that their products are healthy, those who appeared in the television report said they do not make health claims about their products, but are rather offering them as a (dubious) alternative to other snacks. Go figure.
The solution? Make your own granola bars. In this recipe, we blend nutritious quality ingredients with a minimum of sweetener to create the real McCoy – an energy bar that’s both delicious and delivers the nutritional goods:
Quick Energy Granola Bars
- 1½ cups quick cooking oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons each sesame seeds and sunflower seeds
- ½ cup chopped mixed nuts, like almonds and peanuts
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup coconut or canola oil
- ¼ teaspoon real vanilla extract
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 tablespoons silan date syrup or molasses
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 20 x 20 cm square pan or a 20 x 30 cm rectangular pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan.
- In a medium bowl, mix oatmeal, nuts, wheat germ, salt and chopped dried fruit if using. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, vanilla, honey and molasses.
- Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients first with a wooden spoon and then with water-moistened hands until well blended.
- Transfer to the baking pan and press with moistened fingers into an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Let cool slightly and cut into squares or bars with a serrated knife while still warm. Let cool completely before removing from the pan and wrapping individually if desired.
Recipe adapted from the book, “Pashut Bari,” by Phyllis Glazer, from Modan Publishers.