February 22, 2018

Is Your Granola Bar a Glorified Candy Bar?

If there is a ‘healthy’ granola bar that is commercially available, then I haven’t seen it.

Healthy munchiesSure, there is a whole aisle full of ‘granola bars’ at your local supermarket.  But they are loaded with sugar. Some even contain hydrogenated oils, those evil trans fats.

My wish list for the perfect granola bar includes:

1. Sugar content of less than 6 grams.  Yes, sugar is a preservative when used in quantity, not to mention that it makes everything more palatable. However with diabetes and insulin resistance rising to epidemic levels, we don’t need more of it.

2. Fibre content of at least 7 grams. This will offset the high-glycemic effect of any sweeteners or dried fruits used, and promote bowel regularity.

3.  Protein content of at least 6 grams.  When protein arrives in the stomach, the brain shortly receives the signal to cut appetite so that it remains in the stomach for digestion to begin.  Nuts and seeds are the best and most natural way to accomplish this request.

4. Coconut oil as the primary oil.  No canola oil or soybean oil, which are genetically-modified (unless certified organic).   Coconut oil is the winner of the group for withstanding baking temperatures. It is also solid at room temperature so it will assist in holding the bar together (this may be why hydrogenated oils/shortenings are often used).

5. No artificial colours, sweeteners, flavours or preservatives. Enough said.

6. No cracked flax, chia or hemp seed.  (Surprise!)  As beneficial sources of essential fatty acids, these become rancid and toxic at baking temperatures.  Put them on your cereal or yogurt instead.

7. No milk or gluten. There is absolutely no reason that milk products and gluten are needed to hold a granola bar together.  They are among the top allergens/hypersensitivities in the western population. (It’s best to reduce your exposure if you are concerned about becoming sensitive!)

Of course, food industry’s priority is to make food as cheap and shelf-stable as possible, which is why so many of the undesirable features are present in commercially available bars.  For now, I don’t recommend store-bought granola bars.   The best thing to do is make your own.  Have fun with it! I’d love to hear about your successes (and failures).