Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Say yes to breakfast! Cranberry and Almond Granola Bars

I know that some struggle with eating breakfast in the morning.  Some just don't have enough time or simply aren't hungry before they leave in the morning, but we know that breakfast is extremely important to our physical and mental capabilities.  Eating in the morning provides glucose for your brain so you can wake up and actually think.  And for those trying to manage their weight it starts your metabolism in the morning. This granola is great for a quick meal before you leave or as a granola bar heading out the door.

Why make your own granola?  I don't know if anyone has looked at the price of granola at the grocery store, but it is expensive!  Running at 4-5 dollars a box and most are packed with fat and sugar.  Let me tell you that most granola bars are simply cookies in disguise with a healthy name to attract the consumer.  Although they do make lower calorie or high fiber bars, these do not seem to satisfy most people because they lack protein and healthy fats and are composed of simple sugars.

These granola bars are a good source of protein, fiber, AND are low in calories and sugar!  They also contain flax seed which are a good source of fiber, minerals, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. You can find this at your grocery store, I used Bob's Mill flax meal.  Cinnamon and ginger have been known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and yup that's in there too.  Cinnamon can also help control blood sugar because it helps slow down how fast the stomach empties.  Oats contain soluble fiber which helps us feel full, regulate the digestive system, and is the #1 food to lower cholesterol.  The fiber in oats attaches to the bad cholesterol and moves it through the body to be excreted!

Healthy Cranberry and Almond Granola Bars
Makes 16 Bars or 3 cups of granola

2.5 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 cup craisins
1/3 cup flax meal

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp Ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Nutrition Facts: 1 Bar or 1/4 cup granola
140 calories, 18 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 5 g protein, 6.5 fat, 3 g fiber, 50 mg sodium

Ideas for granola
(Breakfast or snack): Enjoy with 1/2 cup of milk, almond milk, or soymilk
                                 1/2 cup greek yogurt with 1/4 cup granola and piece of fresh fruit
                                 Baked Apples! Slice apples and top with granola and bake for 30 minutes
                                 Frozen banana Pops! Peel a banana, dip in yogurt, and roll in granola
                                 Use it in your muffin and quick breads

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