Posts Tagged With: ground flax

Homemade Granola Bars! And What’s the Deal with Flax Seeds?

So this past week I found myself with some time on my hands, and I wanted to try out a new recipe. I had found several recipes for homemade granola bars in the past, and I thought it’d be the perfect time to give it a shot.  Granola bars used to be a staple in my cupboards; I really liked the Quaker Oats Chewy bars and Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Bars. But, with store-bought granola bars costing $3-4 for a box of 5-8 bars, cost can definitely become an issue if these are bought on a weekly basis, so I hadn’t bought any granola bars for a very long time.  So, I was hoping that I could find a granola bar recipe that would still be as tasty as my Sweet & Salty Nut Bars & Quaker Oat Chewy Bars, but without the steep price tag.

The recipe I chose was one I found online here. I chose it because the ingredients were flexible, it required no baking, and it was highly customizable to invididual tastes and preferences.

The ingredients I used were:

  • 1/2 cup of light corn syrup (you can also use honey, or a mix of the two)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 2 cups Crispy Rice cereal (Kroger brand Rice Krispies)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 cup mix-ins (I went with what I had in my pantry at the time– 1/2 cup craisins and 1/2 cup pecan halves)

All my ingredients– the only thing I had to go out and purchase was the $2.00 box of Crispy Rice cereal.

Directions:

  1. Place wax paper over a 9×13″ pan, set aside
  2. Mix together oats, rice cereal, & ground flax seed in a large bowl
  3. Stir the brown sugar and corn syrup (or honey) in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until dissolved.
  4. Take the syrup off the burner and add the peanut butter
  5. Quickly add liquid mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients, mix well
  6. Stir in your 1 cup mix-ins….chocolate chips, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, marshmallows, etc.
  7. Press mixture into wax-paper lined pan…it helps if you put wax paper on top and roll it/press it down with a rolling pin or just your hands
  8. Let cool & cut into bars.

Although I was pretty busy with both hands, I managed to take a few photos.

Grinding my flax seeds in a blender. You can also use a food processor or coffee grinder.

If you’ve never tried flax seeds before, I highly suggest giving them a try.  Flax seeds are stocked full of important nutrients that provide numorous health benefits. Flax seeds are one of the best plant sources of lignan, which is a phytoestrogen that the National Cancer Institute has identified as having anti-cancer properties- it has the potential to protect against certain cancers such as prostate cancer and breast cancer.  Flax seeds are also the best plant source for Omega-3s, a heart-healthy fat. So if you don’t like getting your Omega-3s from fish or supplements, flax seeds are a great alternative. The flax seed I used (Arrowhead Mills Organic Flax Seed) contains 7 grams of fiber per 3 tablespoon serving. It provides both soluble and insoluble fiber, meaning it can help regulate your digestive system as well as protect your heart. Flax seeds are also a complete source of protein, meaning they provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce.

If you do decide to purchase flax seeds, there are a few things to know. One is that flax seeds are either golden or brown in color.  Both varieties contain the same nutrient profile, the only difference is the color and perhaps the cost.  You can purchase flax seeds in ground form or in the whole seed form. In order to reap the health benefits of flax seeds, you have to either chew them up very well or eat them in ground form (sometimes called flax seed meal), otherwise they will pass right through your body, undigested.  I would suggest buying the whole seeds, as once ground, flax seeds are highly perishable and will go bad fairly quickly if they are not kept in an air-tight, opaque container in the refigerator or freezer.  So I’d recommend keeping the whole flax seeds in a bag, and grinding the flax seeds as needed, perhaps on a weekly basis.

Ground flax seeds can be put in pretty much everything.  Bake them into muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, banana bread, pumpkin bread, and other baked goods. You can use ground flax seed to coat chicken, pork, or other meats before baking, as well as mix it into meatballs or meatloaf.  You can also sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal (my favorite), yogurt, casseroles, or other dishes.

Consuming 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seed a day is considered safe, but there have been studies that show there are nutrient-drug interactions at high levels of flax seed consumption. The NIH states that flaxseed may interfere with certain blood thinners, muscle relaxers, or medications for acid reflux, so consult with your physician if this applies to you.

Comparing flax seeds to ground flax seeds. 1/4 cup of flax seeds produced almost 1/2 cup ground.

Getting all my ingredients ready, so that when the syrup/sugar/peanut butter mixture is ready, I can move quickly to mixing it in before the liquid mixture hardens.

Pressing my mixture down, almost like rice krispie bars.

After letting the pan cool and after cutting them into bar shapes, I decided to individually wrap them with plastic wrap.

The recipe ended up making 20 bars, which are great for breakfast, lunch, or for a quick snack.  I’m pretty pleased with how the craisin, peanut butter, pecan flavor turned out, too, although you shouldn’t be afraid to mix and match different flavors, or just use what you have on hand.  The resulting texture is a chewy, soft granola bar not too different from Quaker Oats Chewy Bars.  I have them stored in my cupboard, but you could also throw them in the refrigerator or freezer depending on how long you plan to keep them and what mix-ins you used.

And of course, I wanted to know the nutrition facts, so here is the nutrition information for one of my “Homemade Craisin-Pecan Granola Bars”:

  • 140 calories
  • 6 g of fat
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 100 mg sodium
  • 100 mg potassium
  • 23 g carbohydrate
  • 16 g sugar
  • 1.5 g fiber
  • 3 g protein

Hope you enjoy!

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