With the continuing trend of shifting to a healthier lifestyle, choosing wholesome, convenient, and inexpensive food has become a concern for the people. Which was why granola bars have become everyone’s go-to snack items are granola bars. Made from granola or a mixture of whole grain, fruits, or nuts and bound by honey or other sweeteners. These are then pressed, baked and cut into chewy individual bars. It is highly convenient and a grab-and-go meal replacement or handy snack!
There has been a debate on who invented the granola bar. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recognizes Stanley Mason to have created the first granola bar. He is an inventor who created the first disposable contoured diaper, the squeezable ketchup bottle, and the dental floss dispenser. However, another man named Herrick Kimball says he was the first one who came up with the idea when he was seventeen years old.
Granola Bar Trivia
- January 21 is declared as the National Granola Bar Day in the United States.
- U.S. and Canada call it granola bar or oat bar, but known as flapjack in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Ireland, and as muesli bar or cereal bar in Australia and New Zealand.
- The first granola bar is reported to be patented and made by Edward Thayer Sr. in Chico, California.
- The names granula or granola were trademarked in the late 19th century to denote food that is composed of whole-grain products that are crumbled and then baked crisp.
- Granula was said to be first invented in 1863 by Dr. James Caleb Jackson at a prominent health spa named Jackson Sanitarium. This was initially made to be a breakfast cereal.
Granola Bar Buying Guide
Granola bars are marketed as nutritious snacks that are packed with nutrients and energy boosters. They come in portioned individually packed bars or can be bought in bulk or boxes. Granola bars vary from the original oats and dried fruits or nuts combination to the sweeter more indulgent ones, with marshmallows, chocolates, and peanut butter.
Looking for granola bars will not be a problem as there can be whole aisles dedicated to these. But choosing which among all these brands and variants will be the most nutritious and most tasty can be a dilemma.
Granola Bar Production & Farming in Texas
Local Texan brands will, of course, not let the opportunity to produce wholesome food go to waste. Some local producers offer artisan, freshly made granola bars made available through farmers markets and placed in coffee houses and retail stores.
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals
Granola bars with all-natural and wholesome ingredients are the best bet for weight watchers and those looking for a truly nutritious snack. But the highly flavored and sweet variants are being criticized as they actually contain as much, or sometimes more, sugar and calories than candy or chocolate bars! Preservatives and additives in the ingredients list are also worth taking a second look and some research before buying a certain brand and variant.
- BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene) – these additives are added to processed foods to help them from going rancid and to retain its characteristics such as smell, color and flavor. Despite being Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA and with regulations as to how much BHA and BHT should be consumed or used, warnings from certain organizations have been published about how these substances can also be carcinogens.
- Soy lecithin – Lecithin is derived from many sources such as egg yolks, liver, peanuts, and most commonly in soy. It is usually used as an emulsifier, allowing oil and water to be mixed together. It also helps extend shelf life and reduce the stickiness of the food. But while it may seem harmless, the controversy comes to how the lecithin is produced. Others still deem it as artificial since it is extracted using harsh chemicals, or it is derived from genetically modified soybean plants. So make sure to look for the “organic soy lecithin” label when you buy your food.
- Xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, etc. – These are considered sugar alcohols, or sweet carbohydrates. They are described to look and taste like sugar and are said to contain fewer calories. Some of these substances can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables but as like any other additives, they can also be derived by processing other sugars and glucose. They are also presented to produce some potential benefits such as bone health, skin health, are prebiotic, and has little effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, except for maltitol. The main issue that is being thrown against these sugar alcohols are being the cause of digestive problems when ingested in large amounts. It can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Xylitol is also said to be toxic to dogs, causing hypoglycemia for them.
Granola bars are often sold in individual metalized or matte foil wrappers. Some also have clear sections in the wrapper to show the bar inside. Homemade granola bars can be wrapped in wax paper, tinfoil or plastic wrap so it can be handy and convenient as well.
Enjoying Granola Bars
Granola bars are perfect for any meal to-go or as a booster before and after workout. Eating granola bars can be beneficial to your health as it can help reduce bad cholesterol, prevent anemia, and a great source of vitamin E, protein, and fiber. It can also help in weight loss, fight high blood pressure, and help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
Homemade granola bars can be stored like cookies or other baked treats, stored in an airtight container or plastic ziplock bag. It can be left at room temperature for about a week, or keep it longer for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Making Homemade Granola Bars
The Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten shares a loaded all-natural granola bar that is easy to make at home.
- 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8×12 inch baking dish by greasing it with butter and lining it with parchment paper.
- Put the oatmeal, almonds and coconut on a separate sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally until everything is lightly browned.
- Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl and add in the wheat germ.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
- In a small saucepan, add butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and cook for about a minute.
- Pour the butter mixture over the toasted oatmeal mix. Add the dates, apricots and cranberries and stir.
- Put the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using wet fingers, lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.
- Bake until light golden brown or about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Let cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into bars.