Power bar guru

Almonds are a heart-healthy addition to the filler in this power bar recipe.

The number of granola bars, protein bars and power bars on the market today is astonishing. The range of these products on the “healthy” scale is astonishing, too. Consumers are left with a multitude of snack options and little clarity on what actually qualifies as nutritionally beneficial.

You can take control of your snacking and become a power bar guru. This recipe may help you in that journey.

Try not to discount the recipe because it has what you may deem as too much sugar, or it contains ingredients you don’t like or have never cooked with before.

Look at it more with an eye for what makes a power bar a power bar. With some trial and error, you can reshape this recipe into something that works for your dietary needs.

This recipe has three main parts: a dry base, a filler, and wet ingredients.

The dry base for this recipe includes 2 cups of old-fashioned uncooked oats, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. You can, however, try a different combination of any of a variety of flours available in grocery stores. As long as you get 1 cup of flours into your recipe, it should work out just fine. If you’re not happy with the combination you try, adjust the amounts until it’s right for you.

The filler blend in this recipe has a lot of working parts, and it takes advantage of some superfoods to make the bar a nutritional powerhouse. The filler is a part of the recipe that offers considerable artistic baking freedom, too. Like the flour, you can build out 1 3/4 cups of any combination of filler ingredients that you like. This recipe has 1 1/2 cups of seeds (chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax), almonds, cashews, and semisweet chocolate chips. You could instead, for example, try 1/2 cup of dried raisins, 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, 1/4 cup of wheat germ, 1/4 cup of peanuts, and 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips.

Additional variety can be found by altering how much you chop the nuts. This recipe suggests chopping the almonds and cashews into a fine blend, but you could throw them into the mixture whole for a crunchier bar texture.

Sweeteners in this recipe come in both dry and wet ingredients. If you want to alter the sugar base, be sure to think of the overall recipe in terms of balancing the wet and dry ingredients.

For example, reducing the amount of refined sugar (i.e., brown sugar) and increasing the amount of liquid sugars that have a lower glycemic index (i.e., honey or maple syrup) requires that you increase the dry ingredients accordingly. (For more on glycemic index, see lis of common sweeteners below.)

Note, too, that this recipe includes a sweetener in the form of chocolate chips. And if you include dried fruit in the filler, the fruit will add to the overall impression of sweetness in the bar. The bottom line on the subject of sugar in your bar is, you are in control.

Finally, you can make bite-size bars for appropriate portioning. The bars will keep unrefrigerated, wrapped in parchment paper, in a sealed container for seven to 10 days.

Cashew, Almond Chocolate Chip Bars

Dry ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup almond flour

½ cup light brown sugar

¼ cup 60% (i.e., honey or maple syrup) bittersweet chocolate chips

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 ½ tbsp chinese pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp raw unsalted sunflower seeds

4 tbsp finely chopped almonds and cashews mix

1 tbsp ground flax seed

¾ tsp ground cinnamon

¾ tsp kosher salt

Wet ingredients

½ cup 100% olive oil

¼ cup honey

¼ cup maple syrup

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 9 x 13 baking dish with baking spray

Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat egg on high for about three minutes.

Add vanilla extract, olive oil, honey and maple syrup. Blend together on medium speed for another minute.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Drop mixture into baking dish and spread evenly.

Use a damp hand to push mixture flat in dish.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

For easiest portioning and handling, remove baking dish from oven and immediately cut into squares.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then move squares to cooling rack.

Glycemic Index of Common Sweeteners

Glycemic index is the number, up to 100, that is assigned to sweeteners to represent the relative rise in blood glucose level after consuming that sweetener.

Agave syrup – 15

Fructose – 22

Brown rice syrup – 25

Raw honey – 30

Barley malt syrup – 42

Sugar-cane juice – 43

Black strap molasses – 54

Maple syrup – 54

Evaporated cane juice – 55

High fructose corn syrup – 62

Brown sugar – 64

White sugar – 64

Glucose – 96

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