Who doesn’t love a good granola bar? If you’re like us, you’ve grown up with them as a staple in the “healthy snack” department. And let’s face it, there’s nothing more convenient than grabbing one of these pre-packaged bars as we’re running out the door.
The bad news is that food-marketing masters have done a good job convincing us that these are a healthy choice. With their claims for 100% whole grains, low fat and high protein, surely this is a better choice than a croissant, right?
Get out your magnifying glass; it’s time to be a label detective!
While it’s true that store-bought granola bars can have some healthy ingredients in them, they often also contain preservatives, high amounts of sugar and allergens – in the form of corn and soy oils. One Nature Valley Honey & Oat bar (you know – the crunchy, “healthy” one in the little green package) has nearly the same amount of sugar, less fiber, and half the protein of a butter croissant!
While we totally get the value of having a store-brought bar on hand (we like Lara Bars the best), it’s important to be discerning so as to not fall into the granola bar trap!
The benefit of making your own hearty snack bar is that you decide what goes into it. Today’s recipe takes a lesser-known “grain” and gives it center stage. Buckwheat groats are the unroasted seeds of the buckwheat plant. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat but is related to the leafy greens, sorrel and rhubarb. Buckwheat is commonly ground into flour, to make pancakes and noodles, but the groats contain more protein, a huge dose of magnesium and can be used just like oats.
These bars are easy to make and actually taste a lot like oatmeal cookies! My kids love them too and are calling them “Lara Bars.”
One thing to mention is that since they aren’t packed with fillers and preservatives, they are less portable because they tend to soften quickly once removed from the freezer or refrigerator. But in my humble opinion, a softer healthy bar is better than a stiff sugary snack any day!
Enjoy and be sure to leave me a comment below. What do you think of this granola bar makeover? Does it pass the test?
With buckwheat and sticky fingers,
Raw Buckwheat Fruit Bars
Yield: 12 mini bars
- ¾ cup raw buckwheat groats
- ¾ cup packed dates, pitted and chopped
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup packed dried apricots, minced
Line a bread or loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. Add buckwheat groats to a small bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Stir to mix. Let soak for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with an S-blade, pulse dates and coconut oil together until the dates become shiny bits. Set aside.
After 1 hour, drain and rinse the buckwheat groats. Place the groats into a nut milk bag (or cheesecloth or clean dishtowel). Stand over a sink and wring the towel to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add the groats, cinnamon, sea salt and nutmeg to the date mixture in the food processor. Pulse until well blended but not a paste. Add the dried apricots and pulse a few more times to mix.
Spoon mixture into prepared bread pan. Cut another sheet of parchment paper to fit over the mixture and use it press the mixture into a flat, uniform sheet. Place entire pan in freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Uncover and cut into 12 mini bars. Store in freezer in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Bars may be stacked with a sheet of parchment paper between each level.