When it comes to food, I’m a firm believer in being prepared – especially when I’m out and about for the day, at the mercy of vending machines and drive-thrus should I get hungry along the way. I’ve made a habit of stashing healthy snacks in the car, my desk and any bag I bring with me to arm myself against temptation. Homemade grainy granola bars are some of my favorite snacks – they’re versatile, inexpensive and travel well,with no need for refrigeration. And they don’t go stale as quickly as other baked goods.
I recently came across this recipe for chewy walnut trail bars – my granola and granola bars always contain walnuts, which are high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and healthy fats – the fat in walnuts is 72.4% polyunsaturated fat, known to reduce the levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. They’re far higher in omega 3 fatty acids than peanuts, almonds, pecans or pistachios and are a great source of iron, folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium, vitamins E and B6. Often I grab a bag of walnuts to take with me on the plane – they take up little room, are nutrient-dense and uncrushable. It’s common, unfortunately, to come across walnuts that are bitter – buying yours from a good source will ensure they’re fresh and sweet, like they should be.
Besides chopped walnuts, these bars can be customized with any dried fruits, nuts and seeds you like – wrap them individually in plastic wrap or snack-size zip-lock bags and you’re good to go.
Chewy Walnut Trail Bars
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup coarsely chopped California walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup honey
Preheat oven to 325°F. In bowl, whisk together oats, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir in walnuts, cherries, chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, coconut and sesame seeds; set aside.In food processor, process apricots until broken up, about 1 minute. Add butter, process until a paste forms, about 1 minute. With motor running, pour in honey until well blended. Fold into oat mixture until well combined. Pat evenly and firmly into a parchment-lined 9 x 13-inchbaking pan. Bake in the centre of oven until golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Makes 24 bars.
Per bar: about 250 cal, 6 g pro, 14 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 26 g carb, 3 g fibre, 10 mg chol, 85 mg sodium. %RDI: 2% calcium, 10% iron, 8% vit A.