The three essentials of a granola bar for me are taste, convienence, and energy. This recipe satisfies all three: flexible fruit & nut combinations let you customized your bar, storage is simple: keep in an airtight container, and the unique use of quinoa gives this granola bar added protein and a delightfully nutty flavor.
Love these bars as much as I do? Check out the link below, where Anja has created over a dozen different types of bars and squares using whole ingredients such as Walnut Raisin Honey Nuggets and Almond Butter granola bars. Yum!
Quinoa Granola Bars (reblogged from Anja's Food 4 Thought)
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 uncooked quinoa
2/3 cup nuts (almonds, pecans and/or hazelnuts have been tested and approved)
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/3 cup prunes
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
I mostly stuck to the recipe here, but substituted dried cherries for dried cranberries, and used a nut combination of almonds and walnuts. I also added 1/4 tsp of vanilla, a dash of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup skim milk (which I needed to get my uncooked granola bars to stick together!)
Combine all ingredients except bananas in a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped and stick together. Add mashed banana and pulse again until well incorporated. Use the prepared baking sheet as surface and fill large cookie cutters with the batter (if you don't have cookie cutters, bake batter in a large square, using a knife to get the edged straight, and cut into pieces after it cools.) Gently remove the cutter to keep the bars in shape. Repeat until all batter is used up.
Bake 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Differentiating Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods
Simply, eating whole foods is eating food in its natural state. Think an apple vs. apple juice, or a whole potato vs. mashed potatoes. When you refine and process a food, it can lose a lot of its nutritional benefits. For example, refining a whole grain removes the bran and coating, which contain a significant amount of fiber. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are naturally loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, a natural compound in plants that includes cell-protecting antioxidants. Another benefit to eating whole foods? Avoiding unhealthy additives in the form of preservatives and chemicals.
Griffin, R. Morgan. "The Benefits of Healthy Whole Foods." WebMD. Web. 13 Mar. 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-healthy-whole-foods>.