A boost of quick energy from a treasure trove of nutrients – that is what comes to mind, when someone says ‘granola bars’. Granola bars are generally made of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. It is a customisable and convenient snack which can help busy professionals get the energy they need on the go. Also popular among those who hit the gym, granola bars can give a pump before or after workout as pre-workout and post-workout snacks. Kids, too, can have it as a nutritious snack after school.
As granola bars are primarily made to give us a burst of energy, they typically contain calorie-dense ingredients. Thus, it is always important to control portion size. Weight watchers, watch out!
Shweta M, a fitness instructor from Bengaluru, remarks, “Store-bought granola bars can be substantially high in calories, not just because of the added sugars, but also because of nuts, seeds and dates.”
Shweta has a solution to have it without worrying about it being high in calories. She vouches for homemade granola bars as you can always control the portion of the ingredients while making them. Homemade ones are also a better option because you can make sure there are no added sugars and preservatives.
Emi K, a nutritionist from Bengaluru agrees. She says, “Homemade granola bars seldom cause any digestive issues or bloating because of no such ingredients as preservatives. In addition, the ingredients can be chosen accordingly in case you have any allergies.”
Benefits of granola bars
The main ingredient of granola bars is oats. As a rich source of protein and complex carbohydrates, they provide sustained energy for the day and maintain blood sugar levels without causing unusual spikes. A study published in the journal Foods indicates that oats can suppress hunger, increase satiety, and reduce further intake of foods.
Nuts and seeds are known for their healthy fats. According to a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, nut consumption is also associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular conditions.
Dried fruits are rich in vitamins and antioxidants which further support our overall health. Emi says that it is important to keep the ratio right in order to make granola bars healthy and tasty. She says, “The quantity of nuts or dry fruits should not be more than the quantity of cereals.”
Although dependent on personal preference, a common starting point for a balanced bar would be 3 parts of cereals to 1 part of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. The best part is, Emi says adding dark chocolate to the bar is quite okay.
To make your own granola bars, you can add your favourite ingredient from each category.
Cereals: rolled oats, puffed quinoa, puffed rice, whole grain cereal flakes
Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews
Seeds: flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
Dried fruits: raisins, cranberries, apricots (chopped), dates (chopped)
Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, agave nectar
Binders: peanut butter, almond butter, coconut oil
Flavourings: nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract
Here’s a low-calorie granola bar recipe by Shweta M
Rolled oats: 1 cup
0 Calorie Sweetener: 2 tablespoons or according to your liking
Nuts of your choice – 15g
Cinnamon powder: 1/3 teaspoon
Honey: 1 tablespoon (optional)
Low-fat almond milk: 1 cup
Directions to make
- Mix oats, nuts, cinnamon powder, and sweetener in a bowl. To this, add honey and mix thoroughly.
- Now gradually add the almond milk and stir continuously while doing so. This will help the ingredients bind together.
- Spread the ingredients in a baking pan or any dish with parchment paper. Using a spoon or spatula, press them firmly and create an even layer.
- Refrigerate it for 1-2 hours to make it firm and to set it well.
- Once cooled down, cut them into desired sizes and enjoy your homemade granola bars.
- Store the rest in the refrigerator by wrapping the bars separately in parchment paper to keep them fresh.
Emi says that while making homemade granola bars, it is advisable to make smaller batches or bars and consume them in 10-17 days. In addition, it is important to note the kind of ingredients that go into making granola bars, check whether they require baking or not, and go by their storage temperature as well.
Note – If you are buying granola bars in a store, always read the label for potential allergens, serving size and added sugars. Choose the bars that align with your health goals.