Our family has been trying to reduce our sugar and salt intake, and also buy fewer processed foods.
I’d like to say that this saves us money, but that hasn’t been the case…so far.
However, in the long run, if our medical bills in the future remain low, then we will have saved money and will have preserved our health instead of just buying the cheapest, easiest "foods" for our meals and snacks.
If you come to my home and browse through my cupboards, you’ll still see that we are in this transition process. But…there are far fewer boxed/packaged/jarred/canned goods in my cupboard. You'll see that we mostly have single-ingredient items in our cupboards now.
I used to think that if we made most things homemade, they were healthier for us, right? Well, in some cases that is true, but we have decided to eliminate shortening from our diet altogether, and we are using natural versions of sweeteners now – organic maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, and raw honey.
(Update: Because I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, even after switching to natural sweeteners, my family avoids most sweeteners altogether, except for powdered stevia and Swerve [erythritol]. We also don't use flour of any grain anymore; we use Honeyville Almond Flour and Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour these days).
We’re also trying to use more whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour. I’ve been grinding wheat berries in a Cuisinart coffee burr mill to make flour because I can’t really afford to buy a $400+ grain mill right now or a Vitamix blender. It doesn’t grind as finely as purchased flour, but it is working for us so far.
We’re using coconut oil, red palm oil, and organic butter for our fats. While it does mean that we need to adapt or throw out some of our old recipes, it also means we get to try some new recipes as well!
My husband enjoys having snacks to take in his lunch box to work. He typically works a 10+ hour day, so just a little main dish (usually leftovers) or a sandwich won’t last him that long. He’d come home as hungry as a bear! I know that I won’t be perfect in making all of our snacks at home, but we are really going to give this a try, instead of having a pantry full of boxes and packages of "junk" like purchased granola bars, tortilla chips (we’re going to make our own this week!), pudding paks, fig bars (my husband loves those), etc. We’ll try putting a homemade snack/treat in his lunch along with a mozzarella stick, nuts, etc.
Here’s the recipe for the granola bars that I made this afternoon. Brittany thinks they need a little bit of chocolate (she’s never been much of a fruit dessert type of person), but I think they are super delicious!
What I really like about this recipe is that I didn’t need to make homemade granola first, or buy granola from the store. This is a really quick and easy recipe. Maybe next time, I’ll add a FEW chopped up chocolate chips just for Brittany!
Delicious Homemade Gooey Granola Bars
1. In a 9×12" baking pan, combine the oats, sesame seeds, nuts, and salt. Toast in the oven at 350° F for 12 minutes or until light golden in color. ***Stir every 4 minutes or so to prevent burning.
2. While waiting for the oats, nuts, and seeds to toast, combine honey and coconut oil in a saucepan and heat until coconut oil has melted and they are well combined, stirring frequently.
3. Stir the dried fruit into the honey-coconut oil mixture and allow the fruit to soak up some of the sweet sauce.
4. Remove the oats, seeds, and nuts from the oven when they are golden brown.
5. Take sweet sauce away from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour fruit/sauce directly over the toasted mixture. Stir until well combined, adding chocolate chips or carob chips if desired. Press mixture into the pan with the back of a spoon.
6. When cool, cut into bars, store in refrigerator in an airtight container, and enjoy!
Hi! I'm Julieanne!