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Power Bars: Snacks Or Sweets?

Power bars, or granola and protein bars make claims of improving health and boosting energy.

Most commercial protein bars contain genetically modified ingredients, including soy protein isolate, while granola bars are little healthier, if at all, than your typical candy bar.

Most brands depict their products as super foods using nature as its source, when really they are just encasing healthy ingredient like whole oats and fruit in cane syrup. And don’t be fooled by ingredients like barley malt syrup, which despite having ‘barley’ in its name bears no more health benefits than one would find in table sugar.

While this can be disconcerting, there are still a few power bars out there that use no sweeteners or additives. And most times a handful of nuts or raisins will suffice for a quick energy boost.

But if you are interested in making your own granola or protein bars, it is easy to do so at home and will ensure that no suspicious ingredients are being hidden beneath the oats and chocolate coating.

Granola Bars
2 cups oats
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup nut butter
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup nuts

In a large bowl, blend molasses and nut butter of choice. Add the oats and stir until well blended. Then stir in the nuts and dried fruit. Press the mixture into the bottom of a floured square pan. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares. You can store these in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.

Power Bars
2 cups almonds
1 cup dried figs*, soaked in 1/2 cup of water for 12 hours
1 cup pumpkin seeds

Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until a paste begins to form. Add the figs and pulse again. You can now either pulse the pumpkin seeds as well or simply stir them in, leaving the seeds whole. Next, press the mixture into a square 8 x 8″ pan and refrigerate for an hour or so.

This is a good base for healthy protein bars, as the almonds and pumpkin seeds are protein dense, while the figs are rich in fiber. You can always add in other healthy ingredients too, like coconut shreds or raisins. Additional flavors, including spices, cocoa powder, and pure vanilla extract are excellent as well. If you prefer a slightly firmer, drier bar, you can bake these bars in a 300 degree oven (Fahrenheit) for 10-15 minutes. These will keep well for a week in an air-tight container.

*When selecting dried figs, be sure to get organic to ensure it is an unsulphured variety.

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