Homemade berry granola bars

homemade honey oatmeal fruit bars

I used to make these when I was in college and my friends would always rave about them. This is the most popular recipe on my blog so I wanted to share it here as well. Most of the ingredients are things you probably have on hand and if not, you can easily find them at most grocery stores.

Ingredients:

- 2 cups rolled oats

- 1/2 cup wheat germ (flax seed would work fine)

- 1 cup whole wheat flour

- 1 egg, beaten

- 2 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (you could also use dried dates as a sugar replacer)

- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

- 1/2 cup honey

- 1/2 cup applesauce (or you can use olive oil or vegetable oil)

- 12 ounces of frozen fruit (I typically use a mix of different berries. I’ve found that dried cranberries and blueberries work really well together. but i’ve also used a frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries and that works well too. just depends on what you’re in the mood for)

Directions:

1) preheat the oven to 350 degrees f. Generously grease a 9x 13 inch baking pan.

2) in a large bowl, mix together the sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, and flour. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, applesauce, and vanilla. Add in your mixed fruit. Mix well using your hands. If you have kids, this would be a great recipe for them to help out with and get their hands dirty. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

3) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes then cut into bars while still warm.

Now for the 411 on the ingredients.

- oats are a great whole grain and contain a good amount of fiber. Same with whole wheat flour.

- Wheat germ is the most vitamin- and mineral-rich part of the wheat kernel. Typically this part is removed during the refining of whole wheat to white flour. Wheat germ is packed with B vitamins, which are needed to make proper mood chemicals for the brain, and are critical for cardiovascular health. Wheat germ is also a great source of fiber, which is necessary for good blood sugar balance, cholesterol control, intestinal health and detoxification. In just 2 tbsp of wheat germ, you get 1.5 grams of unsaturated fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugars, no cholesterol and about 60 calories. Wheat germ is also a great source of vitamin e, which is a powerful antioxidant. I wrote a whole post on the benefits of antioxidants here. Wheat germ is also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids (more of fats here). Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower cholesterol, lower inflammation, and support a healthy nervous system, which can lower anxiety levels and improve mood. I mentioned that you could use flax seed in place of wheat germ (flax is a plant and so flax seed is just the seed from the plant). Flax seeds are also very high omega 3 fatty acids.

- I wrote a post here about the importance of using spices and herbs (like cinnamon). Many spices and herbs offer nutritional benefits and they are a great way to add flavor to your dishes.

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