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Granola Bars

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been doing very well on my Super Pledge to stop eating between meals. The first couple weeks I wasn’t able to cobble together more than a couple of days (non-concurrently I might add) each week where I didn’t eat between meals. But, as I predicted, after a month of gently reminding myself, and focusing on replacing between meal snacking with healthier activities, I’m now happy to say that I’ve spent the past two weeks not eating between meals at all.

Now, that said, I have to clarify that I’m technically eating four meals a day right now, not three. I have breakfast between 8am and 9am and then lunch between 12:30pm and 1:30pm. But then I wasn’t eating dinner until 8:30pm most nights and that was just too darn long to go without eating anything. I realized that this schedule was part of my downfall. I had been setting myself up for failure. This schedule is why I was ravenously hungry at 5pm and grabbing stuff out of the cabinets or off the kids’ dinner plates. Not good.

So I implemented a 4pm-5pm light meal/heavy snack and reduced the size of the 8:30pm dinner. Wouldn’t you know it, that fixed the problem! Now, in the late afternoon I have a piece of fruit and some protein; like Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Problem solved. All was well. Until… I realized that I couldn’t maintain this incredibly sane plan on the days that I go from work straight to the gym to workout before picking the kids up from school. On those days I wasn’t eating lunch and it was long haul from breakfast until that 4pm “snack”. That wasn’t going to work either.

So, while brainstorming on a portable snack I could bring with me to eat BEFORE the gym that would give me nutritious carbs, a bit of protein, and enough energy to get through a workout and to 4pm I remembered a recipe for granola bars that I’d found on Smitten Kitchen last year. Boom, another problem solved. But of course, I can’t leave well enough alone. Even though I know that everything that Deb makes is going to be fantastic, I just had to do some tweaking… like cutting out the sugar and corn syrup to add my own sweeteners, adding a bunch of spices because I like the bars to taste like nutmeg and ginger, expounding on her instructions to use any dried fruit and nuts I’d like, and adding some wheat germ because, well, I’m just like that.

The result is pretty gosh darn good and fits the bill exactly. Cut ’em, package them in snack sized zip-top bags, and drop one in my work bag. Done. Of course, I have to mention that this is not just a snack, it really is a meal replacement. Last year when I made these I found myself eating them as snacks, or dessert, or with my breakfast smoothie. But at 350 calories a pop they are a meal replacement. And they do a great job at it.

Remember that the various chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc. are all interchangeable. Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact ones I used, or the exact quantities I used… in fact, I may have used too much. Mine were a bit crumbly and I think it’s because I overloaded them… oops. Shoot for 15 oz of added chunky goodness and you should be good to go.

Chewy Granola Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick cook oatmeal (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 5 oz chocolate chips
  • 3.5 oz raisins
  • 3.5 oz dried cranberries
  • 3.5 oz dried chopped dates
  • 3 oz pumpkin seeds
  • 3 oz sunflower seeds (shelled)
  • 2 oz dried unsweetened coconut
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup nut butter (I used peanut)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup blue agave syrup
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prep a 8x8x2 inch pan by lining it with parchment paper and greasing the insides.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix together the oats, flour, wheat germ, salt, and spices. Stir to thoroughly combine.
  3. In another bowl, over a kitchen scale, measure out the dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips.
  4. Stir to combine them with the oat and flour mixture.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter. Mix into the melted butter the nut butter, vanilla, syrups, molasses, and water. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  6. Using a fork to stir add the liquid ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir to combine making sure that all of the dry ingredients are moistened.
  7. Place the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture into the pan firmly to make sure it is packed in tight. This will help the bars stay together once cooked and cooled.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  9. Cool the bars completely before attempting to cut them. (You can refrigerate them to make them easier to cut.)
  10. Cut into 12-16 bar shaped pieces and wrap them individually in plastic wrap or place each one in its own snack size zip-top bag.
  11. They can be stored in Tupperware on the counter or in the fridge.

Cooking time (duration): 40

Diet type: Vegan

Meal type: breakfast