Over the last few months, I have attempted to pair down the processed foods in our home and make smarter wiser choices when it comes to snacks.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we still totally enjoy a bag of Cheetos every now and again!!
My general rule of thumb is attempt to purchase foods with less than 5 ingredients, and preferable those with ingredients that I actually can read and know what they are. The list of ingredients on things as simple as pancake mix would absolutely appall you! This is one reason I started making my own peanut butter.
For example: Triscuits actually make the cut. The cracked black pepper are my favorite. And so do Baked Tortilla Chips.
My attempt to cut down processed foods for granola bars is a bit more difficult, especially because there are way less coupons for the healthier foods, so the costs can be significantly higher. Plus, with a tree nut allergy in our family, a lot of the bars with less ingredients in them contain tree nuts. Clif bars for instance can be around $1 per bar! And most Luna bars contain tree nuts.
So in my attempt to help us live a healthier and safer life, I found a recipe (while pinteresting of course!) for homemade clif bars. They turned out great and were super easy to make! Below is the recipe from the site. I chose to make ours with PB, honey (instead of rice syrup), dark chocolate chunks and craisens. Even the hubs thought they were pretty good!! I’m looking forward to trying other varieties.
Homemade Cliff Bars (no bake!)
There is plenty of room for variation here, so let your mind and tastebuds run wild. I have a few variation ideas to get you started. And yes, you can definitely double this recipe and press into a 13×9-inch pan insteads of an 8-inch pan.
1 and 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal (e.g., I like Erwhon Crisp Brown, but Rice Krispies are fine)
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit (e.g., raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.)
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts or seeds (pepitas are great)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup or honey
1/2 cup nut butter (preferably natural, well-stirred, but creamy is fine, too)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine the rice cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, dried fruit, and nuts in a large bowl.
Combine the syrup and nut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and well-blended (alternatively microwave in small microwave-safe bowl 30-60 seconds until melted). Stir in vanilla until blended.
Pour nut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated (use a wooden spoon at first, then get your hands in it. It will be sticky, but this way you can really coat everything. Just scrape off your hands when you’re done). Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch square pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper (really tamp it down). Cool in pan on a wire rack and chill at least 30 minutes to help it set. Cut into 12 bars. (Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator).
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Replace the dried fruit with an equal amount of semisweet miniature chocolate chips (or carob chips). Combine the cereal mixture with the syrup mixture, then let the combined mixture stand 10 minutes before adding the chips.
Use chopped cranberries for the dried fruit and raw pepitas for the nuts/seeds. Use either honey or brown rice syrup.
Peanut Butter Cookie
Use chopped dates for the dried fruit and dry roasted peanuts for the nuts. Use honey, or half honey-half molasses for the syrup and peanut butter for the nut butter.
Will You Cherry Me?
Use chopped dried tart cherries for the fruit and lightly salted roasted almonds for the nuts. Use any nut butter(almond butter is great, but I know, a bit pricey–but worth it!), and add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.