I have a love-hate relationship with granola bars. They’re convenient, small enough to take anywhere with you, and they’re virtually mess-free (unless they come in at a 9 on a scale of 1 to Nature Valley bar). However, if you walk down the colorful granola bar aisle at the grocery store and read the labels the majority of them are filled with suspicious ingredients that even an adult would have trouble pronouncing.
Here are 3 simple rules I like to live by:
- The Ingredients: Look for ingredients that come from the earth. These will be easy to recognize and you shouldn’t have to ask yourself, “What is this?” Another good rule of thumb is less is more – keep the ingredient list to fewer than 10 items.
- Sugar: For a snack, choose a bar with less than ten grams of sugar. If you’re looking for a meal replacement, keeping it at only ten grams may be difficult, so opt for versions that have the same amount of carbohydrates (sugars) as they do protein. Also, keep in mind that “natural” sugars (i.e. honey, maple syrup, and agave) still cause sugar crashes and can lead to metabolic syndrome (i.e. insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and obesity).
- Fiber and Protein: Together they will keep you feeling fuller longer. They will also help slow down the digestion of sugars and control your blood glucose levels.
Instead of reading a million labels, I opt to keep things simple with wholesome ingredients, salty-sweet, and some crunch. These bars give you healthy fats from the peanut butter, fiber from the oats, and protein from the whey.
1 ½ cups quick oats (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats)
¼ tsp salt
½ cup peanut butter (or another nut butter)
½ cup agave nectar or honey
2/3 cup protein powder
Handful of mini chocolate chips
- Stir all ingredients together until well mixed.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 14 pan lined with parchment/wax paper.
- Place another sheet of parchment paper over the top and continue to press down and spread until it fills the bottom of the pan.
- Freeze until hard and then cut into bars.