chewy granola bars

Hey there :)

Do you know the feeling when you have barely time but you are just very very hungry? Your sugar level goes down, you’re feeling rather tired and everything everyone around you suddenly becomes a real nag. At least I feel that way when I’m hungry. I’m getting a little bitchy and have to concentrate very hard to not just snap at everyone. So when that happens I better grap a bite, preferably something sweet or a smoothie or a yoghurt or really anything that doesn’t spell papaya.

Unfortunately I do have a part time job that makes eating a little difficult. I’m sometimes working like 5-6 hours straight at times one usually gets hungry without being able to take a real break to eat something. But out of the necessity to eat at least something small I started to bring some granola bars along as they are small and easy to hide in your pocket. Also you can just eat them on the way from place A to place B if you are really in a hurry. They are just so manageable :) Most of the time I just bought them, but as with everything you buy, you can’t really control the ingredients. So when a friend of mine made some of her own I decided that I can do that as well. As I made those on a weekend and didn’t feel like doing any shopping, I just worked with what I had in my kitchen, luckily for me I have at least a big nuts and seeds staple. So all in all it worked out quite good I find :)

Best thing about them is that you can adjust the sweetness to your taste and that you can easily swap some ingredients for others as long as you keep the overall balance. The once I made should have a nice fiber content because I wanted them to keep me full a little longer, hence there are a lot of nuts in various states and seeds in them.

A little word on lucuma…

Lucuma is actually a fruit that is harvested in mainly in Peru, where it also hat the most cultural meaning, Chile and Ecuador. It is also called “Gold of the Incas”, so, if that doesn’t sound pretty valuable, eh? It has a slightly sweet flavor, maybe with a touch of caramel, but is really low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning you won’t get a sugar rush from it and IT does even help with your blood sugar levels. Judging by appearance it reminds me a bit of a mixture of an avocado and a mango.

Anyway, the whole fruit is hard get here in Europe as it doesn’t last all that long. So to make its benefits accessible for those not living where it is harvested, it is ground into a fine powder. So, what are those benefits? As already mentioned lucuma is low on the GI, meaning it can be used as a healthier sugar replacement. The taste and the texture isn’t all that similar, so keep that in mind if you want to experiment ;)

Lucuma also has a good amount of fiber, healthy carbs and quite a lot of minerals, being especially high in potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also high of carotene, which is not only anti-carciogenic, but good for your eyes and for your skin as it works as an anti-aging-agent. And honestly, who doesn’t want that? Another vitamin that lucuma is high in in Vitamin B3 (next to some other B Vitamins), also called Niacin, which makes it especially interesting for vegetarians or vegans as B3 mainly occurs in meat. Without going into too much detail let me state that Niacin helps with the metabolism as it acts as a part of two coenzymes (NAD and NADP) that are involved in more than 50 different metabolic reactions. Quite an impressive number, huh? In a nutshell Niacin helps to break down and utilize protein, fats and carbohydrates. It also plays some role in the normal function of brain activity, so just another pro for this multitalent Vitamin :)

Okay, I’m starting to lose the topic of the bars… So although lucuma really has a lot of other benefits, let’s cut it here and get back to the recipe ;)

Recipe

prep time: around 15-20 minutes                         baking time: 30minutes

Ingredients Dry

  • 1 Cup rolled Oats (or quinoa flakes)
  • 1 Cup left over nutmilk pulp or ground nuts of preferred sorts. I’d go for almonds I guess
  • ½ cup or more walnuts, coarsely chopped (or use pecans)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds should work as well)
  • less than 1/3 cup brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like it ( with 1/3 cup in turns out to be rather sweet)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. or more Lucuma powder (optional, but worth it)

Wet

  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. nutbutter (I used a mix of hazelnut-poppy seed and some almond butter, but you can go with almond butter solely)
  • 1/3 cup rice syrup (this one isn’t all that easy so swap as it is very sticky and holds the other ingredients together. So you cannot swap it with some other liquid syrup like maple syrup that easily)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract

to top:  some chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional; make sure to vegan ones if you want those bars to stay vegan)

Instructions

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl and stir with a wooden until mixed at least a bit. The rice syrup is a little hard to handle, but it doesn’t have to be all that perfectly combined.

Now pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, start mixing with a spoon and then continue to work with your hands until you get a sticky mass of dough.

Line a square form with parchment paper and put the dough inside, trying to distribute the dough evenly. As the though is very sticky, you can form it into a square if you don’t have the right form. I had to do so myself and I worked okay. But of course, a square form is easier.

If you like you bars topped with some chocolate, now is the time to sprinkle them on top.

Press down the dough either with your hands or by putting another parchment paper on top of the dough and then using a rolling pin to flatten it out. Remove the top parchment paper.

Bake in the oven at 175°C for about 30 Minutes.

Let cool, remove from the form and cut into slices. Do not cut before they are cooled and firmed up. I first tried that and they just crumbled apart.. But they are easy to cut when cool :)

sources:

Haas, Elson M.: Staying healthy with Nutrition. Tenspeed, 2006. Rev. and updated.

http://www.naturalnews.com/044408_lucuma_South_America_superfruit.html

http://superfood-gesund.de/lucuma-ein-heilmittel-fuer-die-haut/

http://davinahearne.com/lucuma-a-superfood-also-known-as-gold-of-the-incas/

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