Tag: granola bars

Sprouted Oat and Fruit Bars

Perhaps you’ve noticed even the most conventional of grocery stores have  expanded their grain selections from white rice and brown rice  now to include quinoa, barley, amaranth, and even freekeh. These ancient grains have gained popularity over the last few  years. The number of recipes including these long-time ignored grains has inspired people to try new varieties.  Since they are filled with more nutrients, fiber and protein than plain white rice, they have presented us with   good reasons to include them in our meal routines.

Gear up for yet another change in your grains. Sprouted grains now are slowly gaining popularity.  And they are not just another fad; the industry believes that they   will represent a dominant trend in the next couple of years in the food marketplace. They will appear as ingredients in baked goods; they will also be  sold in bulk as  a money saving option.

Sprouted grains are made from whole grains. They are the whole grains undergoing  a  transition phase from seed to plant. This process involves the germination process of the seed done under controlled environment so that the sprouting is stopped at just the right time. If the seed continues to sprout into a grain grass, then it is no longer edible since it is passed the point of  digestibility for humans.  Sprouted grains  generally offer the same or better nutrition benefits than whole grains.

When a grain is sprouted, this  means some of the carbohydrates present in that grain are used as energy to grow the sprouts; therefore, they  concentrate the amount of protein, fiber and other nutrients in the grain. There are studies analyzing the possibility that this process also allows for an easier-to-digest  grain with greater nutrient availability for us.

Nutrient availability varies  for each grain, but sprouted wheat, for example, has been shown to contain more fiber and vitamin E, and sprouted wheat flour  contains possibly four times as much folate as regular wheat flour! Since the popularity of sprouted grains has steadily increased, so has the research into their additional health benefits. Within the next few  years, there could be more data available to support our transition to sprouted grains – or not. In the meantime, it is not a bad idea to start experimenting with sprouted grains in your own kitchen. Include them  as an ingredient in your cooking or just add some variety or varieties to your menu.  Take sprouted brown rice, for example. Although there are some websites explaining how to sprout your own grains at home, beware: The technique involves soaking and rinsing the grains  with  warm water several times a day. These  conditions are optimal for bacterial growth and could potentially be present in enough quantity in the final sprouted grain to induce food- borne illness. Therefore, follow sterilization techniques and cook sprouted grains fully when trying out those methods.

Or, more conveniently, you may purchase already sprouted grains which is a good idea for beginners. The following recipe uses store bought sprouted rolled oats. Rolled oats, steel cut oats, or other cracked oats can’t be sprouted since their hull has been removed. Oat groats are usually used in commercial production and deliver a safe and reliable sprouted oat product. The recipe also calls for a fruit puree for which you can use what you have on  hand, or make a puree  to fit a special occasion. Pumpkin puree is a great option for –   a taste of fall, or use apricot puree for a more summer- like fruit bar. Enjoy creating your own versions, and let us know how you’ve delighted in baking with sprouted oats!

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Sprouted Oat and Fruit Bars

¼ cup of Once Again American Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter

1 cup of puree 100% pumpkin or fig paste, date puree, or apricot puree.

1 cup of sprouted rolled oats

2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

3 tablespoons of stevia substitute baking blend (or ½ cup sugar, or coconut sugar)

¼ cup of dried cranberries

Mix peanut butter and pumpkin until well blended. Add stevia and pumpkin spice and combine. Slowly add in oats and cranberries. Spread the mixture in an 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Take it to a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. Edges will begin to brown; insert toothpick into the middle to check for readiness. Remove from oven, and let the large bar cool before cutting it up into portion-sized bars. Store them in airtight container for up to one week, or freeze for up to three months. You may also add other toppings such as chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, or raisins.

Sticky Almond Bars: Make Your Own Granola Bars: Easier than it sounds!

Sticky Almond Bars: Make Your Own Granola Bars: Easier than it sounds!

Summer time is great for so many things! Amongst all the days of fun and play I like to sneak in a few days in the kitchen to get creative. Usually the rainy days, which here in Florida are quite common in the summer. During the school year I resort to granola bars quite often, not just for the kids but for myself as well. It is an easy to grab snack that packs a ton of nutrition and hold me over until the next meal nicely. The problem is that I can get quite picky with granola bars, it’s usually a whole process to pick the right one at the store. It involves a whole lot of label reading, comparing and then taste testing to find a good one, and not to mention I often spend quite a bit of money.

Long story short: I decided this summer to try out some granola recipes! During the hectic school year with activities and homework I just don’t have the time to experiment as much. Therefore this past weekend I looked through my cookbooks (yes, I actually still have a few paper bound books!) for inspiration. I knew I wanted to make a granola bar rich with fiber, protein and natural sugars as much as possible. As a family we enjoy the sticky kinds much more than the hard dry granola bars, so that’s where I started.  Here are the ingredients I picked and why:

20140622_192812221_iOS  Dates- Great for making the “sticky” goodness of the granola bar! Dates are sweet so they eliminate the need to add refined sugar to the recipe. They also are very rich in fiber, iron, potassium and tannins (a polyphenolic antioxidant known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties). They contain a moderate amount of vitamin A, Calcium, manganese and other antioxidants as well.

Mixed nuts – The nuts added the protein to my bar. Great plant sourced protein and healthy fats, they also some crunch. Choose any combination you would like! They can be roasted or raw, whatever you prefer.

Honey – My favorite natural sweetener! It’s sweeter than table sugar therefore you need less, and it has vitamins too such as vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and antioxidants.

Oats – They provide the bulk of the recipe but also add to the fiber content of the bar. They have a unique antioxidant profile, which combined with their high fiber content makes oats a heart friendly food!

Dark Chocolate Chips – Well… what can I say, I love chocolate! By choosing a chocolate chip that is over 60% cacao I can eliminate some excess sugar. Dark Chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, fiber, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese.

Lightly Roasted Almond Butter – Definitely what made this bar so scrumptious! The flavor of the lightly roasted almond butter just20140622_194927119_iOS set this bar apart from the other recipes I’ve tried before. It adds protein and it has a very heart friendly fat profile with unsaturated fatty acids and lots of fiber as well! Not to mention it is rich in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and cooper too.
Creating this recipe was fun but it did take me a few trials to achieve the “finger licking” sticky point for my taste. You can substitute or add any ingredient you’d like to make it your own, the secret is keeping the oats, dates and almond butter measures consistent. My next recipe will skip the chocolate chips and add coconut flakes! It was quick to prepare, didn’t require any baking and a sure keeper for when we return to our busy schedules! And you know they are a success when the kids are asking to trade their popsicles for more granola bars.

…. Enjoy your time in the kitchen,

Carolina


Sticky Almond Granola Bars

serves up to 10 people

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1 cup of dates – pitted (if you use dried dates, rehydrate them in ¼ cup warm
water for 30 minutes)

¼ cup Once Again honey

¼ cup Once Again Nut Butter Lightly Roasted Almond butter

½ cup Mixed Nuts (of your choice! Raw or toasted)

1 ½ cup oats

¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Place dates in food processor and mix until puree. Add it to a large mixing bowl with oats, nuts and chocolate chips. Lastly add the honey and almond butter and stir it quickly. It helps if you slightly warm the honey and almond butter over the stovetop. Then place it in 9×9 (or 8×8 for thicker) pan lined with parchment paper and flattened evenly. Place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to set, then cut into 10-12 bars. Keep them in airtight container in fridge or you may freeze them too!