What’s in Your Healthy Snack?

Various Clif Bar products. Image from http://pics1.ds-static.com/

I remember when I ate my first Clif Bar back in high school and I loved it. Heck, I still love a good Clif Bar when I need a nom break. I have tried my fair share of bars like Nutrigrain (sorry, I feel like I’m biting into a cotton ball) and Nature Valley (cement block, anyone?) but Clif Bars are definitely my go-to. I love the company’s attitude toward the food they make (organic, no high-fructose corn syrup) but when I look at the label, there are some ingredients that make go,  “Wait, what?”, and those ingredients that make me think, “Okay, so I love the taste, but how do I even make this?”

Apricot Clif Bar. Mmmmmmm.
Image from http://c3.vine.com/

Take a look at this list of ingredients from the Apricot Clif Bar:

Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Rice Starch, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Dried Apricots (Apricots, Evaporated Cane Juice, Rice Flour, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid), ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Organic Psyllium), Organic Cane Syrup, Dried Apricots, Organic Date Paste, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Colored with Annatto.

(List of ingredients from http://www.clifbar.com/)

Okay, let me just pull some of these ingredients into the spotlight.

    • “Organic Brown Rice Syrup” – I’m pretty sure I can’t find this at my local grocery store.
    • “Ascorbic Acid” – Where does this come from?
    • “ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Organic Psyllium)” – The bolded words say all. I am at a loss as to what that is.
    • “Lemon Juice Concentrate” – Wow, Clif Bar and MinuteMaid have more similarities than I thought. They go for the concentrate stuff rather than obtaining the juice directly from the fruit.
    • “Colored with Annatto” – Colored with what? Excuse me? Even my spell check has “annatto” underlined in red.
This is apparently annatto. I’m happy that Clif Bar isn’t resorting to synthetic red dyes, but I don’t think it grows locally in Virginia…
Image from http://gernot-katzers-spice-pages.com/

Okay, so there are ingredients that are definitely not your run-of-the-mill Giant/Stop-and-Shop/Kroger products. What’s my point? I’m saying that do you as a consumer feel comfortable putting these products in your body when you’re not completely sure what they’re made of? I’m not saying that we should all boycott Clif Bar because the company helping to bring light to buying organic food stuffs, but why not just make your own bar? There are lots of recipes out there on the internet and I’ve found an easy, minimal-mess recipe for peanut butter granola.

Yup, you heard me. Peanut. Butter. Granola. Need I say more?

Peanut butter granola? Yes, please! Image taken myself from my camera phone (so nagging about the quality).
Peanut butter granola? Yes, please!
Image taken by myself from my camera phone (so no nagging about the quality).

I adapted this recipe from Table for Two (original recipe found here), a delightful blog that I hope to try more recipes from. I’ve made modifications by substituting honey for maple syrup and forgoing the vanilla extract. (Vanilla extract is actually a bit pricey for a college student.)

Ingredients

4 tbsp peanut butter (creamy works well)

4 tbsp maple syrup (may substitute honey or agave nectar)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a medium-sized baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  2. Combine peanut butter and maple syrup in a microwave-safe bowl. Zap that for 30 seconds in the microwave so the peanut butter and maple syrup can be stirred together in harmonic bliss.
  3. Add cinnamon if desired to the peanut butter and maple syrup mixture. Add the oats and stir to coat.
  4. Lay oats out on a thin layer on the baking sheet. I recommend not exceeding 3/4″ in thickness. It’s okay if the oats touch each other as the end product will be chunky and easy to grab.
  5. Cook for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Store in an air-tight container no longer than a week.

Want to be eco-friendly? Save that parchment paper and use it again! That, or invest in a silicone mat to save on parchment paper.

Cover image from http://5kfoamfest.com/

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