Sunday, March 30, 2014

Clean Breakfast Oat Nut Bars

In my quest to eat less processed foods, I realized one of the biggest culprits in our diet were those incredibly convenient granola bars such as Nutri-Grain, Quaker, or Nature Valley. Have you ever looked at the ingredients? They are filled with sugar and other less than healthy garbage. I was able to cut them out of my diet, but it was killing me to buy them for my husband, who had one almost every morning for either breakfast or a midmorning snack. He has a family history of diabetes so I am trying very hard to keep him healthy. Continuing to buy processed, sugary, and misleading granola bars is not the way to stay healthy.

I happened upon a recipe during the Clean Eating Challenge I did back in January and I have made a batch of these special oat bars almost every week for us to have for breakfast. They are healthy, mostly organic, and I know exactly what I am putting into my body. I change up the nuts and dried fruit to keep it interesting, and I am so good at making them now that I don't think we will ever have to eat those terrible processed bars ever again!

Here is my version of the recipe adapted from the Whole Living Action Plan:

Heat oven to 350 degrees

In a big bowl (dry ingredients)

3 cups of organic rolled oats
1 cup of nuts (pecans, walnuts, and cashews work well)
1 cup of dried fruit (organic raisins or cranberries are great, and even dried dates are good)
a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon over the top
pinch of kosher or Himalayan salt

In a smaller bowl (wet ingredients)

1/2 cup of raw honey
1/2 cup of almond butter
1/2 cup of organic applesauce (the only ingredients should be organic apples and water)
1/2 cup of pure 100% orange juice
tiny bit of vanilla extract (real please)

*Mix ingredients in each bowl separately until thoroughly incorporated
*Brush a small rectangular or square baking dish with either extra virgin olive oil or organic sunflower oil. Don't forget the sides!
*Add wet ingredients to dry and mix completely
*Add oat mixture to the baking dish and press down until packed down as much as possible
*Bake for 25-30 minutes. The sides should start to brown a bit.
*Be sure to keep an eye on it because they tend to be on the dry side if over-baked even a little.
*When done, cool completely before cutting. I try to get 10 bars out of a batch.
*Individually wrap in tin foil for easy grab and go in the morning. They go great with tea or coffee!

I have most of these items on hand all the time. I buy the oats in bulk at Whole Foods, along with the almond butter. One jar lasts for 3 or 4 batches. I also buy the raisins or cranberries in bulk at Whole Foods because it's so much cheaper than at a regular grocery store. I do get the apple sauce at Big Y although I am sure it's at Whole Foods too. I've been trying to cut down on special trips to the store and go to certain places before or after work, depending on what I need that week. I've already noticed I have more time on my hands to do more important things, like organize the house or walk the dogs.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. My husband loves them and I know he doesn't miss those other bars at all.

Good Luck!