My mantra this week is all about healthy eating. It started with my plan for my next culinary journey and then I made it my mission to eat healthy overall. I really love eating non-fat Greek yogurt and I wanted to get back on that kick. I’ve also watched how much sugar I eat over the last three years or so (not that you would think that based on last week’s post, I know), so I like to go with the plain Greek yogurt, since yogurt can be pretty high in sugar. Plus this way I have more control over what goes in it.
So I was thinking about ways that I could eat yogurt without relying on fresh berries. I love the berries, but they can be expensive sometimes and I wanted a change of pace, so I thought about granola.
Granola is standard topping with yogurt, but it can also be pretty high in sugar, which is where my culinary journey started. I wanted to make a low sugar granola that I could just snack on or add to my yogurt for a lovely crunch. Then I started thinking about other things I could make and got inspired to make my own granola/power bars.
What has really intrigued me so far are all of the ingredients that I scoured the stores for and had never used before. That’s right, I’m talking to you flaxseed meal, brown rice syrup, crisp brown rice cereal and wheat germ. (I briefly covered wheat germ in last week’s recommendation for an awesome oatmeal recipe.)
The beauty of granola is that you can substitute what you like, work with what you have on hand, or replace ingredients that you can’t find in local stores. For example, I was having a hard time finding flaxseed meal, so I was going to just substitute it with flaxseeds, which are easier to find. The brown rice syrup can be replaced by agave nectar or even maple syrup since both are readily available. As for the crisp brown rice cereal, good ole Rice Krispies cereal will do the trick as well. I found that Whole Foods carried the hard to find ingredients, so I was all set to get started.
Recipe #1: Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Homemade Vanilla-Orange Granola
As I was searching the internet for a granola recipe, I zeroed in on this particular one when I saw it was tagged as a low-sugar recipe. I found it on a site called Answer Fitness. It was exactly what I was looking for, and aside from the flaxseed meal, I figured I could find all of the other ingredients easily, which I did. The great thing about this recipe is that there wasn’t much prep work to be done. All that was needed was to zest and juice two oranges, which was easy albeit slightly messy.
What I loved was how easy and fool-proof the recipe was to put together. Another wonderful plus was that the orange and vanilla flavors worked well together and are definitely a tasty surprise as you’re munching along.
As I mentioned before, I was inspired to eat this with my Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, but I must say that I’m a bigger fan of just taking a spoon to it as well! Delish!
For the recipe and step by step instructions, click here.
Recipe #2: Granola Bars
If you’re looking for a great snack to take to work for your afternoon cravings or something to munch on while on a trip, you’ve got to check out this granola bar recipe. I found it on the 101 Cookbooks site, which I frequent often for healthy cooking ideas. Heidi of 101 Cookbooks put together a great video of her trip to Big Sur and how to make these awesome power bars on her site. Check out the link on the Recipes page if you want to watch it.
I made this recipe over my lunch break yesterday, and it was a snap to put together. There were two slightly difficult ingredients to find: brown rice syrup and crispy brown rice cereal, but you can always use the substitutes above if you get desperate. Whole Foods carries both of these items, and you can always order them online at Amazon.com if needed.
I just snacked on one of these power bars, and I must say that it exceeded my expectations. I’m not a huge granola bar eater, but I think I might just be converted. I chose to form the bars in an 8×8 inch pan, so they were nice and chewy. They had a definite sweetness, but there is a lovely surprise with the ground espresso in the mixture that keeps you interested and going back for more.
You can see the flecks of espresso along with the nuts, oats, and cereal. It’s a really special treat and is loaded with flavor. Feel free to substitute your favorite nuts and add some dried fruit to it as well and really make these your own. I can’t wait to experiment with this recipe!
Click here for the recipe and step by step instructions.