Banana Trail Mix Granola Bars

I love granola bars (and granola not in bar-form), but store-bought granola bars can be high in sugar and not at all healthy. One solution to avoiding the sugar high and subsequent crash is to avoid packaged snacks and instead make your own. Granola bars are surprisingly easy to make and because you’re in control, you can greatly reduce the amount of sugar and fat in the recipe. The following recipe is deliciously chewy, moist (when straight out of the oven) and guaranteed to be healthier than most granola bars. I can’t take full credit for the idea of this recipe, because it came from an assortment of pinterest re-pins and instagram likes (a nutrition student needs her distractions too!). photo 1-18

Ingredients (makes 12-16 bars/squares):

  • 3 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or thick liquid sweetener
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup trail mix
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a large bowl, combine oats, trail mix, cinnamon,and nutmeg
  • In a separate bowl, mash bananas, and then add apple sauce, honey, and vanilla extract
  •  Mix wet ingredients into the oats, trail mix and spices until a thick mixture results
  • Grease a 9″x 9″ square pan or rectangular pan of your choice
  • Using a spoon, spread the mixture on the pan creating a 1-1.5″ thick layer of granola
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • Cut into squares/bars and enjoy!

photo 2-17-Jess

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Chocolate Chip-Granola Compassion Cookies

Cookies in the morning sunlight

Cookies in the morning sunlight

Greetings and happy (almost) summer solstice! The recipe I’m sharing today has nothing to do with summer. After all, chocolate chip cookies can be eaten year-round and aren’t necessarily something I think of as a summer treat. Regardless, I’m sharing this recipe because of the reasons why I decided to wake up early this morning and create these cookies in the first place. Lately my schedule has been jam-packed due to taking an intensive summer class (microbiology and a microbiology lab) and the start of a new job. These two factors have led me to indulge in some not-so-healthy eating, in the form of coming home late at night and indulging in some of my favorite healthy, yet, junky foods. I realized this past week, that I keep buying foods that I tend to overeat (cereal, granola, chocolate chips, and trail mix, although healthy, are my weaknesses and I never eat just one serving). As I’ve written in previous posts, using food during stress is common, but it shouldn’t be your go-to way to relax. With this in mind (and after eating one too many bowls of granola in bed this past week), I decided to make it easier for myself to not over-do my granola + chocolate chip habit by baking cookies that I can share and give to others. If you find yourself eating the same foods during times of stress, or simply when you’re not actually physically hungry, one easy step to alleviate this problem is by getting rid of the “trigger food”. Instead of being wasteful, either make a dish for someone else or donate the food item to a food bank. If the food is already opened, see if you can contact any organizations that accept fresh yet opened food (many do) or if you live in an area with a visible homeless population, consider showing some kindness and giving your food to a homeless person directly. Kindness towards yourself (by not using food to cope with stress) and kindness towards others (by donating said food items) is a win-win. Here’s my recipe for chocolate-chip granola cookies, or as I’m calling them “Compassion Cookies”. Enjoy and share your food!

Compassion Cookies 

photo.PNG-4

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour (it can be whole wheat, spelt flour, almond meal, gluten-free, whatever floats your boat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (softened, I microwaved it in a bowl for 45 seconds)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or almond milk)
  • 1.5 cups granola (I used Nature’s Path Cinnamon Raisin Granola)
  • approx. 8 oz. vegan chocolate chips (I used sunspire organic 65% cacao chocolate chips, but I know trader joe’s also makes vegan chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients and add applesauce, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil.
  • Add the soy milk
  • Add the granola and chocolate chips.
  • Mix well.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with non-stick spray
  • Using a spoon, spoon cookie batter onto the sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  • Remove from the pan, allow to cool.
  • Share and enjoy!

 

-Jess