KidsHealth recommends thinking twice before feeding your family a prepackaged snack bar. It’s important to carefully read the nutrition data on these bars. According to the KidsHealth study, there are a few things you should watch out for when trying to decide what type of health bar to pick up for your family. Here are a few tips:
- Forego the fudge. This first tip should be pretty obvious. If a health bar is dipped in fudge or is full of chocolate chips, pass on it. Granola bars in particular seem to fall prey to the fudge-dipping and sugar-loading practice. While granola itself – rolled oats, honey, raisins and nuts – is pretty healthy, anything that looks like it’s spent some time swimming in a chocolate fountain should probably be a no-go. If you and your kids love granola, stick to the healthy granola bars or make some at home using the easy recipe below.
- Read the label carefully. While a bar might make a lot of boasts on it the side of the wrapper that faces out into the grocery aisle, you don’t really know what’s going on inside that bar until you flip it around get a look at the nutritional facts. Avoid bars that are high in sugar and fat. Many protein bars are marketed to athletes as ways to repair and recharge muscles after intensive workouts, but if your young athlete is in need of protein, they’ll best be served by lean meats, cheese, eggs and nuts. If a protein bar is free from excessive amounts of sugar and fat, feel free to pick up a few for when your child is on the go, but remember that the aforementioned foods will offer the best protein sources.
If you’re wondering how to make health bars, the following recipe is for you. It gives you complete control over what gets put in (and more importantly, what gets left out). Try this easy and delicious granola bar recipe:
8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries
Butter a 9×9 inch glass baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.
Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn the mixture.
While these are toasting, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and put in on medium heat. Keep cooking until the brown sugar has dissolved.
Once the mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300F. Add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture and put in the fruit. Stir these together until well mixed. Turn the mixture out into the butter baking dish and make sure everything is evenly distributed. Bake in the oven 25 minutes. Place on a heating rack to cool for an hour. This recipe will yield about 16 servings.
Sometimes the best granola bars are the ones you make at home with the mouths that will be eating them. This delicious and nutritious recipe shouldn’t take more than an hour but the food can be enjoyed for up to a week after being prepared.
- “Kids and On-the-Go Nutrition”, KidsHealth.org
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