Healthy, Chewy Granola Bars with Less Fat and Sugar
These healthy, chewy granola bars are lower in fat and sugar, but don’t compromise on taste! Use your favourite homemade (or store-bought) granola to whip up a batch of these tasty bars in under 30 minutes.
Who doesn’t love chewy granola bars? They’re a delicious sweet treat. However, a quick glance at the label of supermarket bars is likely to scare you out of eating them. Some commercially available bars have up to 10 grams of sugar — almost half the daily allowance for an adult female — and 9 grams of fat. So, you think you’re reaching for a healthy snack, while you’re actually loading up on empty calories.
When I started looking for alternatives, I was disappointed to discover that many recipes for homemade bars weren’t much better. Naturally, they didn’t contain ingredients such as corn syrup, BHT, or Niacinamide. However, many of the recipes I found contained up to 1/2 cup (or more) of honey and brown sugar. Some of the recipes contained both butter or oil and nut butters, making the fat content unacceptable. Naturally, fat and sugar bombs taste great. But, they’re the opposite of healthy!
So, I realised I would have to strike out on my own and create a recipe from scratch. In principle, this seemed like an easy task. However, I struggled to get my bars to stick together without either cooking plenty of sugar to the soft ball stage or adding a load of fat.
I finally turned to psyllium husk, which is an ingredient I use to make homemade seed crackers. I figured if psyllium husk could bind sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and the like, it should be able to keep my granola bars in one piece. However, I needed to ensure that the bars remained soft and chewy (unlike the crackers). Ultimately, I realised that with more water, and a little less time in the oven, I could create healthy chewy granola bars at home in under half an hour!
What Is Psyllium Husk?
Psylliam husk is a natural fibre from plantago plants. When water is added to psyllium husk, it swells into a gel which is used as a binder or gelling agent in various foods.
Interestingly enough, psyllium husk is also marketed as a stomach remedy. It is an effective treatment for both constipation and diarrhoea. Because it is high in fibre, and absorbs lots of water in your digestive tract, psyllium keeps your digestive system regular.
Better yet, it is also an excellent prebiotic. Hence, psyllium promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. This bacteria, in turn, strengthens your immune system and helps reduce inflammation.
In addition, psyllium husk is heart healthy. Many studies have shown that its fibre assists the body in regulating cholesterol levels naturally. Psyllium husk also helps reduce blood pressure and improve lipid levels. Thus, psyllium husk is a terrific, hearth-healthy addition to a balanced diet.
About the Recipe
This is a very simple recipe. In fact, it’s a perfect project for bringing small children into the kitchen because it’s easy and doesn’t involve sharp knives.
Start with your favourite granola. Remember, this is the main ingredient. So, you have to enjoy the flavour. I make my own granola which already contains some of my favourite mix-ins — coconut, raw cacao nibs, cashews, and cranberries. However, if your granola doesn’t have the mix-ins you like, simply reduce the quantity of granola by 1 cup, and consider adding a cup of treats, such as:
- puffed whole grain cereal
- mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- dried fruit
- nuts, such as pecans walnuts, or almonds
- dried coconut
- goji berries
- chopped dates
- seeds, such as sunflower, flax or sesame
The list is really limited only by your imagination. You may also add flavouring agents, such as a few drops of almond essence, a teaspoon or two of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom, for instance), or citrus zest. As you use the recipe, I am sure you’ll be inspired to create your own unique flavour combinations.
The only other trick to this recipe is to line your baking tin with a parchment paper sling. I normally resist such fussy additions. However, if you want to ensure you’re able to cut pretty bars that look professional, the sling is a huge help.
You will also want to cut the bars with a very sharp knife, dipped in water. This is a tip I got from my son who is at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, and it works a charm. If you keep dipping the knife in water as you go, you will wind up with perfect bars.
I hope you and your family have fun getting creative with these simple, low fat, low sugar granola. Most of all, though, I hope you enjoy these healthy bars as much as my family does! Bon appétit!