Monday, May 16, 2011

{ Homemade Breakfast Bars - Take ? }

Phoebe eats very few things, so what she does eat needs to pack a punch and be low in added sugar. I mean, who wants a kid with a constantly empty stomach eating sugar laden foods? With that in mind I read the labels of every "kid" food I buy. A favorite in our house is Kashi Breakfast bars and they pack 8g of sugar per bar. What does this mean exactly? I don't know. I do know that the Kashi Granola bars have more like 5g per bar and Cheerios have 1g of sugar per serving (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm remembering these off the top of my head; yes, as Kyle often likes to point out I have a plethora of "useless" information locked away in my noggin). In any case, my goal is always to keep the sugar per serving to less than 10g, but I still don't know what this means or why I randomly chose that amount.

What I do know is that I want to save our family's sugar consumption for yummy desserts and treats and not waste it on things that don't really have to have so much sugar added to taste good. In case you're wondering why I am so concerned about "sugar consumption", read this article "Is Sugar Toxic?". Obviously I haven't taken sugar out of my diet, but I find that this article is a good reminder to keep all things in moderation and to try to substitute less refined sugars for sugar (white and brown) and/or high fructose corn syrup.

So in trying to keep unnecessary sugar out of our food, I've started to make more things and buy less prepackaged foods: granola, yogurt, bread (Kyle makes this) and most baked goods (this is more of a waistline issue, if we want it enough to bake it... so the thinking goes; at least it doesn't also have a bunch of additives). But back to breakfast bars, 8g of sugar per bar almost daily just feels like a lot. Whether it actually is or isn't, I really don't know; I'm not a nutritionist.

Moreover, when I bake I just use less refined sugars with different molecular structures, meaning they're metabolized differently, so I don't know if I'm really making a difference or not; but hey, I'm trying. So here's the deal on "healthy substitutions" as I like to call them:

APPLESAUCE and HONEY can replace sugar on a one to one ratio (1 c applesauce or 1 c honey for 1 c sugar)

AVOCADOS can replace butter at a one to one ratio as well

Besides these basic substitutions, I also like to play with the flour by doing whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. This messes with the gluten content though and can affect your end product, so proceed with caution.

When I attempt to make breakfast bars, this isn't my first attempt, I start with the "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies" recipe on the lid of all Quaker Oats cans, an idea I got from my mother in law, and then I alter it from there. So what follows is a variation from the Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies recipe:


1 c butter (or avocado - the avocado will affect color and texture, but you can't taste it; in today's creation since it was for the girls not me, I used butter.)
1 c honey
1/2 c applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 c oats
1 c raisins

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cream butter and apple sauce.
3) Mix in eggs, vanilla and honey.
4) Combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix into butter/egg mixture.
5) Stir in oats and raisins.
6) Now you should have a nice goopy paste like mixture. Poor final mixture into a 9x13 ungreased baking pan.
7) Bake 30-35 minutes.
8) Cool. (I didn't let mine cool all the way and the first hot bars were just crumbs but after they cooled, I was able to cut bars.)

My out of focus, but adorable baking assistants.

Our finished product, a breakfast bar.

After the bars cooled, I cut them and placed them into two large freezer bags before putting them in the freezer. The plan is to take them out one at a time and warm them up for snacks or let them thaw in sandwich bags if we need an on the go snack (assuming that the preliminary at home eatings aren't too crumbly).

So this was today's experiment. Feel free to try my experiment or venture out and try your own. If nothing else, I hope that today's post encourages you to try substituting and experimenting with your recipes to make them more healthy for your munchkins.

If you find an awesome answer to the homemade breakfast bar, please share!


bug said...

Ooooh...I am totally going to try that! Did Phoebe like it?? What I usually sub for sugar is Agave Nectar (I buy the 2-pack at Costco), and you can do a 1 (sugar) to 2/3 (agave) ratio with that. I love Oatmeal treats, will let you know how I do with this one. Love the blog Jess, keep it up! Bug

Oly Momma said...

Bug- The girls love them. I take one or two out of the freezer and throw each one in the microwave for 30 seconds and they are as good as fresh. Phoebe wasn't so keen on the ones I made with avocado instead of butter, the texture and color were a little off putting for her. They are moderately crumbly though, so you either want to feed T in his high chair or play with the recipe.

bug said...

OK, I made them and I love them! (They are for me, but if Theodore likes them too, it will be a bonus). I made a couple alterations. I subbed 2/3 C agave nectar for the honey. I halved the butter. I added 1/2C wheat germ and 1 cup shredded zucchini. Next time I'm going to add shredded carrots. These are so great Jess, I'm glad you figured them out for us!

mollyt said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog and I'm very excited to see you live in Olympia! My grandparents live there and I'm just about an hour and a half north :) This recipe looks great! I have a breakfast cookie recipe I'm make for my has pureed carrots in it and whole wheat pastry flour. I don't know how the pastry flour works different from the regular flour, but it might be worth exploring. I've never substituted with honey, but I have cut the sugar down from the original recipe. Next time I'll have to try honey just for fun. Thanks for the great blog.

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