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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Healthy Granola Bars!

One of my goals that will help with saving money, as well as eating more healthfully, is to make my own snacks. Most snacks are high in HFCS, salt, MSG, trans fat, dyes they are much more expensive than making your own. And if you have kids that are old enoug, you can get them involved in making the snacks. What kid doesn't like to help "cook" if given the opportunity?!

Here are a few ideas:

1. Homemade granola bars: Try this recipe. It was delicious, chewy, and you can really do a lot of things to add variety (different nuts, dried fruits, add a few chocolate chips on top, etc. It made 16 granola bars for less than a box of 10 would cost! TIP: if you don't have waxed paper and use foil instead, make sure you spray with non-stick cooking spray!

2. Homemade popsicles. Or as I like to call them "juice-cicles." Just take 100% juice and put it in ice cube trays. After about an hour, or once the pops start to freeze, put in some popsicle sticks. YUM! You can always buy the fancy popsicle molds, but this is the cheapest way! And MUCH healthier. You can always pour your favorite yogurt in the trays and achieve the same thing, just with different nutrients and some protein! COOL!

3. Trail mix: make you own, and use unsalted nuts. That way you only have to put in what YOU like!

4. Apple smiles. Cut apples into wedges. Smear peanut butter on one side of 2 wedges. Stick a few raisins on the peanut butter on one of the apple wedges and top with the other apple wedge - peanut butter side down. It looks like a smile! YUM!

5. Fruit leather. Yes, there is sugar, but at least YOU control the amount and you know exactly what goes into it!
Wash fruit well. Remove stems and seeds, you can peel the fruit if you wish. Slice or chop fruit and place in a food processor or blender and puree. To prevent discoloration, add a tablespoon of lemon juice if you wish. Purée adding a minimum amount of water or juice if necessary. Purée should be the consistency of molasses or thick applesauce.

If you wish to cook the fruit, pour the purée into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring continuously. When it boils, keep stirring, turn off heat, and let purée simmer for 3-5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Spread fruit purée evenly over a grease cookie sheet or a cookie sheet covered in plastic wrap (secure plastic wrap with tape) until 1/8-1/4" thick. Leave 1-2 inches between the purée and the edges of the cookie sheet.

Place cookie sheet in oven with door slightly open. Keep oven at 115-120°F. Dry for 6-8 hours. Flip leather over, pull off plastic wrap and dry for another 6-8 hours.

Fruit leather is finished drying when it feels tacky, but is pliable and will pull away from the plastic wrap.

6. Fruit and cheese kabobs. Cut up the fruit and cheese, and skewer them! You can store them in a plastic container for up to a few days!

7. Here is another granola bar recipe. I might try this next time!
1 ½ cups rolled oats
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup ground nuts
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
¼ cup melted butter or oil
5 tablespoons honey
1 beaten egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup dried fruit

Mix all dry ingredients. Mix honey, oil and vanilla into dry mixture. Add more honey to moisten or dried oats to dry mixture if necessary. Press mixture into 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, cool and cut into bars.

Got an idea? PLEASE share!!

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