I love when I find a recipe that is quick and delicious, especially if it can take the place of a processed food that I purchase for convenience. For example, granola bars. They are great snacks for school and have the potential to provide protein, fiber, and vitamins. However, the ingredient lists tend to be quite long and complex and, if you read my last post about tortillas, you may remember that when I buy processed food, I look for short, simple ingredient lists. Thankfully, my mom came across this recipe during her most recent visit to my house. She was flipping through one of my Food & Nutrition magazines when she came across this recipe for Super-Seedy Granola Bars. When my mom visits she fills our kitchen with excitement! My girls love baking with her and I love learning how to make traditional Hungarian foods and the secrets to some of her specialties, like her amazing Spanikopita! My mom is always ready to try a new recipe no matter what time of day (or night). So, it was not too much of a surprise when she suggested making this recipe just a few hours before we had to leave to take her to the airport. She grabbed the ingredients and got to work. In no time we had delicious unprocessed granola bars that have fiber and protein and are made with whole foods and unrefined sugar. My kids love these and now I can pass up the granola bar section in the grocery store. Yay!! Another processed food off my shopping list!
This kind of brings me to what I am writing about this week: clean eating. You may have heard of the term and you also may be practicing it without even realizing it. If you aren’t, it may be a good idea to make a few changes to your lifestyle for a healthier year.
In a nutshell, clean eating is avoiding processed foods and choosing to eat whole foods. Processed foods are basically foods in a package and with a label. It is often very difficult to avoid using some type of processed food, so my recommendation is to try to purchase foods that most resemble the way they appear in nature. Whole foods are simply foods before anything has been added to them.
Clean Eating Basics
Keep your foods:
- Use unrefined sugar. Whole Foods Market provides a wonderful description of the types of sugars that are typically used in foods and that you can use in place of refined sugar.
- Make your meals at home. Not only is this healthier for you, but it can be educational for your kids. Get them involved with measuring, mixing, and even meal planning. Let them see where food comes from and that meals take time to prepare. Often they will enjoy the meal more knowing that they helped make it.
- Combine protein foods and carbohydrates when planning your meals. The protein in your diet will help slow digestion and aid in maintaining a stable blood sugar.
- Enjoy 5 -6 small meals each day to help keep your metabolism going. More frequent smaller meals will help your stomachs to stay satisfied throughout the day. Less snacking, just healthy meals.
Clean Eating for Dummies website offers a great summary of eating clean. It is in bullet form , which I love!!
When I was young, clean eating and slow food cooking was just the way it was done. There were some nights I remember eating frozen pot pies (yum!) but, for the most part, our meals were homemade. I think this was just something that my parents learned from theirs. Practically everything my grandparents made was from scratch. Again, just the way it was done and most likely the way they were taught when they were young. Our cupboards and refrigerator lacked the quantity of the fun processed foods that filled the pantries of our neighbors and friends. Our peanut butter was all natural and our bread was whole wheat. My brother, sisters, and I laugh (now) about the lunches that we had in grade school which more than once included beets. While I don’t pack beets in my daughters’ lunches, my food practices tend to mimic those of my parents and grandparents. Our pantry and refrigerator hold mostly ingredients and whole foods and most of our meals are homemade.
I know there aren’t always enough hours in the day to make our meals from scratch and often processed foods are very convenient. However, there are plenty of shortcuts and quick meals to help eat clean more often, if not all the time. I will be writing more about this subject, but just thought I would start with the main ideas this week.
Enjoy your week!
Stay tuned, stay healthy, and stay Pretty in the Peak
Marianne Lindgren, MS, RD
- 1½ cups quick-cooking oats
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted peanut butter
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) honey
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
- Line a 9-by-9-inch square pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap with enough overhang for easy removal.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract until very smooth.
- Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, stir until evenly combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Using the back of a wooden spoon or an offset spatula, firmly press the mixture evenly into the pan.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
- Gently lift the parchment or plastic overhang to remove from pan and slice into 16 bars.
- Enjoy immediately or wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper and place in a freezer-safe bag to store in the fridge or freezer. Serves 16.