So I have found that I have been giving out a lot of advice and suggestions at GoodnessMe! lately with regards to recipes. In particular, customers tend to strike up a conversation about how they are trying to make this or that but whatever the recipe may be, it requires the use of some ‘unhealthier’ ingredients that they don’t wish to use. This then leaves them in a bit of pinch.
Take granola bars for example….
They are quite the convenient and tasty lil bars you might say….
They can also be quite the devilish lil bars too…
Often they are filled with HUGE amounts of sugar…
….and other questionable invaders…
Corn syrup solids….sounds appetizing
Even the so called ‘healthier‘ and ‘natural brands’ carry some pretty hefty no-nos when it comes to smart snacking.
Take Kashi for example.
I used to LOVE their cereal (GoLean crunch, not because it was “GoLean” but because it was yummy and, from what I thought, more natural and healthier than the other brands…Ah memories) and eat their bars on occasion (life before Questbars…sad days). Today though, Kashi doesn’t really phase me. Maybe that’s because cereal in general doesn’t really register to me as food very often. Sorry to all you cereal lovers out there for my hateful words against your precious cereal. Or maybe it’s because I know better now and because of that, I just prefer to make my own yummy snacks.
So what do I have against Kashi you ask?… as I ramble on further..
Nothing. I’m just stating an example and trust me, they are BY FAR not the worst, but they are not the best choice either when it comes to curing your hunger pangs in between meals. Let me show ya’ll..
Here’s the ingredient list on their trail mix bars. Hmm…Trail mix…Sounds healthy right? Fruit, nuts, seeds…
Yes, grains and almonds are at the top of the list, which is good because that means they make up the the largest respective quantity in the bars BUT who pops up next? Brown rice syrup (sugar), evaporated cane juice crystals (more sugar..I think?), soy grits (what?!? I already am not a fan of soy, but I will stop it there), evaporated cane juice syrup (like we needs more sugar…), vegetable glycerin (I have no idea)..and so on. Oh and their supposedly amazing Kashi Seven Whole Grains Blend…yeah it’s at the bottom of the list.
So yeah, there’s some “Tasty Ingredients”… as they call them.
What do you think? Am I sounding too harsh or picky?
Annnywhooo, so after reading all of that you are prolly wondering when I’m going to get to my point of writing this post. Well, the reason I chose to mention granola bars was because I had a customer recently who was trying so desperately to make her own homemade batch of bars for her kids but just could not figure out how to make them without a sticky binder. Yes, things like honey and maple syrup are great NATURAL binders, much better than using corn syrups and such, BUT they pack a lot of sugar that will still cause the same insulin spike in your body as regular ol’ sugar. In my mind, that is NOT what I want my midafternoon pick-me-up to do.
This brings me to my MAIN POINT (finally I know..)
What types of snacks can I swap out for some of these processed, so called healthy snacks?
What are some easy recipes for said swaps so that I can ensure that I know exactly what is going into my (and kids if you have them) body and will limit my consumption of processed crap..?
Well, let me show you 😀
A special thanks to Pinterest and all the amazing bloggers whose recipes make my list of swap-a-roos! Just click on the pictures for the recipes!
To start, we need a list of snackies that most tend to gravitate towards for convenience and “health”..
- Granola Bars/Protein Bars/Energy Bars
Since I had been asked specifically about granola bars, I will start with those. In this category I will also include protein and energy bars as well as they are also quite common. Making your own homemade bars can be quite challenging without that sticky component but I have found some great alternatives that will still be yummy and, better yet, contain more nutrients and less sugar!
One possible solution, which I suggested to my customer, is making baked oatmeal and cutting that into bars. There is no need for all that sticky, sugary syrup if the entire bar is baked! Check these out for inspiration.
Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Granola Bars. Soft and chewy, these bars combine dark chocolate, walnuts and oats to make for a yummy and dense snack. There is 1/4 cup of sugar in these though, which you can do a couple things with…
- You could care less about it and leave it as is
- You could sub in 1/4 cup of apple sauce (unsweetened), banana or other puree and just reduce the milk
- You could use Stevia or another natural sugar instead **Be careful as some people don’t like Stevia**
Thanks to Anne over at Fannetastic Food for the recipe.
Chocolate Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal Bars. Two words. Cookie. Dough! The lovely blogger over at Mouth Watering Foods (who I cannot for the life of me find your name, I’m sorry. I think your recipes are awesome!) created a chocolate and cookie dough bomb made purely from wholesome ingredients. Sweetness from the banana and apple sauce. Stability from the oats and the overall baking process. Fun points for the addition of the homemade healthy cookie dough that they provide the recipe to as well. All and all, a great bar for snacking as you decide whether to add any additional sweetness, in the form of maple syrup, to the recipe
Instead of baked oatmeal bars, you can find alternative binders to hold’em bars together.
Like nut butters…
Low-Fat Granola Bars With Banana, Cranberries and Pecans. Who doesn’t like bananas?!?! The dried fruit can be a sugar bomb as well so tweak the ‘filling’ ingredients as you please. Overall a great snack that is vegan, dairy and nut free and can be made gluten free (use GF oats) by Nicole over at Prevention RD.
Due to the extra quick sugars in this one, it could work out great a pre-workout snack!
Another convenient snack is granola. It’s great for sprinkling in yogurts, on top of smoothies or just plain eating by the handfuls. Oh and it’s good for me….right? I mean its generally made up of oats, nuts, seeds and fruits, so what could be the problem? Well, similar to granola bars, what makes the oat and nutty goodness stick together? Often its a syrup of some kind. So we are left with a similar problem as above BUT here are some recipes that use alternative binders to the most tradition ones to give you that clumpy, crunchy granola that you crave.
Pecan Pie Granola. So this one is a lil bit of a cheat as it uses a lower sugar maple syrup as part of the binder. Mind you, it’s only 2 tablespoons, which leaves you with a single gram of sugar per serving, but it’s still a syrup of some kind. The rest of the binding power simply comes from the egg white. I liked that it was quick, easy and a great take on well received fall-ish flavour. Big thanks to Katie over at Dashing Dish for the recipe.
Low Carb Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Granola. This recipe by Kelly over at Foodie Fiasco uses peanut butter and banana to work their magic as binders and is completely syrup free! One note with this one is that you are not going to get the same feel as the store bought variety (still crunchy though!) but hey, that’s due to the fact that it doesn’t have nasties in it.
I can personally attest to the peanut butter/flour not getting aaaaassss crunchy as a syrup would, but the flavour is still there. He’s my own Peanut Butter and Banana Granola if you want to try it out.
Aside from oaty snacks, we also have things like muffins and cookies that people tend to reach for as something quick and easy. Many still believe that muffins are quite the healthy snacking option…
but generally that assumption is quite the contrary.
so sad but so true.
Muffins are often loaded with hidden sugars, syrups, fats and other crap that most are unaware of. So, while you are mindlessly snacking away on your ‘healthy snack’ your body is actually hating you for your dietary choice. Probably it’s biggest complaint->Insulin spike much! (or you could refer to it as…when sugar attacks!)
BUT OF COURSE…
I have a solution for all the muffin lovers out there (which maybe you don’t want to hear…)
MAKE YOUR OWN!
😀 you know you love me.
Here, I will even help you out on the first couple.
The first stop is the site of Miss food genius herself, Kim, over at The Coconut Diaries. I follow this amazing lady on Instagram and her personal site is definitely something to check out. Her IG banner phrase of “healthy food never looked more naughty” really suites her food. Trust me!
Ok, back to the recipes…
So, technically were have a smorgasbord of cupcakes, mugcakes and muffins list here but hey, they look the same right and OMG they look delish! Did I mention they were healthy and speedy too?
Chocolate Brownie Crusted Mugcake
All of her creations are made with healthy ingredients and are filled with protein and great flavour to keep you satisfied. Not to mention most of her baked goods are nuke-able, making them super fast for those who need to rush out the door. Like I said, she is a genius in the kitchen so make sure to check her out!
I have mentioned her before and I will mention her again, Ellen over at Best Fit Body is also quite the chefy and bake-ress. Check these out.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Muffins. Made with wholesome ingredients and packed with 8g of protein, who wouldn’t want one of these lil muffins? I mean come on, PB, banana and chocolate is a classic combo so they are winners in my eyes. Plus you can make up a batch to last you the week of healthy snacking.
Last but certainly not least, I will guide you over to Katie’s page (Chocolate-Covered Katie) for some fall muffin porn.
Pumpkin Pie Filled Muffins. For those who are more lenient with their baking, as she does use some brown sugar (which you could sub out for Stevia if you wanted to), I give you these lil babies. Still made from whole and nutritious ingredients, if you are a pumpkin lover you will certainly enjoy these. That ooey-gooey centre will make your tastebuds happy campers.
So there you have it. You can no longer give the excuse that an unhealthy snack was simply too convenient to pass by when hunger strikes as I have given you quite a large number of options to choose from that are easy, quick and yummy. I even have ones that you can make in 1-2 minutes when the hanger starts to come out and you need food NOW. Put the nature valley bar down and whip up a 2 minutes cupcake would ya!