In the past few weeks, my schedule has (not so) gently reminded me that I am, in fact, in graduate school.
You know those stretches of time where you are sometimes too busy to do little things that you otherwise take for granted – cook a well-rounded dinner, run that extra mile on the treadmill, shower for more than 2 minutes? We all have them, and they are one of those sneaky health saboteurs that lead us reaching for quick meals. As a matter of fact, lacking time is probably one of the primary contributors to less than ideal snacking and eating habits. (They don’t call it fast food for nothing.)
In an attempt to stave off that evil, hungry demon over my shoulder that whispers sweet nothings into my ear about the vending machine stocked with candy and chips, I try to keep a stash of healthier options in my office – dried fruit, oatmeal, nuts and seeds. Granola bars are great because they have sources of protein and fiber, and travel well in your purse or gym bag. Store-bought granola bars, although convenient, can have hidden sugar and additives that can ruin our good intentions. Not to mention they can cost a lot more than they’re worth! This in mind, I taught myself how to make my own granola bars using oats, dried fruit, and nuts bound together with a ripe banana and nut butter.
The beautiful thing about homemade granola bars is that you control what goes in – there are no preservatives or extra sugar, and you can use what you like and have on hand. They also take about 10 minutes to make and cost about $0.60 apiece. The only pitfall is that, because they are all natural, you have to refrigerate or freeze them if you don’t plan on eating them right away. If you wrap them individually, they thaw on-the-go. I assure you, they are worth it! They are packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. I like these for a quick breakfast or to refuel after a workout. The recipe below lists the ingredients that I used, but feel free to substitute different dried fruit, nuts, or seeds to make them your own!
Homemade Granola Bars
Makes about 12 servings
1 ½ cup oats
½ cup dried cherries
½ walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flax or chia seeds (optional)
1 ripe banana, mashed
½ cup honey
½ cup peanut butter (any nut butter can be substituted)
Combine all DRY ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mash together all wet ingredients. Pour WET ingredients into dry, and mix well. Spread mixture into a baking dish lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Press until flat. Place dish in freezer for a few hours, or until firm. Remove from dish and carefully cut into 12 bars with a sharp knife.
These bars make a great grab and go breakfast or snack! Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer for up to a month. These bars quickly soften at room temperature.
So, that’s it for this week. Have a delicious weekend!
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!