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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Treat yourself to a wholesome snack

I’ve never been a big breakfast person, which is actually kind of odd because many of my favorite things to eat are typically considered breakfast foods. I just usually prefer to eat them for lunch or dinner.

Most mornings I’m content with a double latte and a doughnut — not exactly the breakfast of champions.

Lately, though, I’ve been making a conscious effort to clean up my diet. Some of the changes I’m making include cutting down on refined sugars, fats and starches, and including more lean proteins, leafy greens, fruits and nuts. All good stuff, no?

Unfortunately, caffeine and doughnuts aren’t considered wholesome foods. The coffee is nonnegotiable for me. But, the doughnuts have (mostly) been replaced with energy bars, my favorite of which are KIND bars.

For those who don’t know, KIND bars are crunchy, chewy bars filled with nuts, seeds, puffed brown rice and dried fruits. They come in myriad flavor combinations, and they’re good for you.

They’re also pretty easy to replicate at home, so you can put exactly what you want into them. Plus, making them yourself won’t break the bank.

The recipe below is from “Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook” by Camilla Saulsbury (Lake Isle Press, $16.95). All of the ingredients needed to make these bars can be found at your friendly neighborhood Publix or Whole Foods.

The key to getting the right texture and “stickiness” is the brown rice syrup, which, by the way, is a low glycemic product. Don’t be tempted to use honey, agave or maple syrup instead. The bars won’t hold together. If you must substitute, try organic white corn syrup. The bars will be a bit sweeter, but they won’t fall apart.

If you’d like to fancy your bars up a little, you can drizzle melted white or dark chocolate over them when completely cooled.

So, be “KIND” to yourself and enjoy a delicious bar for a healthier breakfast, or tuck one into your bag for a quick pick-me-up during the day.

Homemade Energy Bars (similar to KIND bars)

Nonstick cooking spray

1½ cups roughly chopped assorted raw or toasted nuts and/or seeds, (cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, pecans, almonds)

1⁄3 cup crisp brown rice cereal (you can use an equal amount of other puffed or crisp grain cereals, such as puffed millet, quinoa, or amaranth, in place of the crisp rice cereal)

½ cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, apricots, berries, dates, figs, mangoes)

1⁄3 cup organic brown rice syrup

1⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the nuts, seeds, cereal and dried fruit together in a large bowl. Add the syrup and salt and stir until evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Spray a large piece of wax paper or plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray, and use it to press firmly and spread the mixture evenly into the pan. Discard the paper or plastic.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly browned at the edges, but still somewhat soft at the center. Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan in one piece and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 10 bars and let cool completely. Wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If frozen, let thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour prior to eating.

Calories and nutritional values vary depending on ingredients.

Find more amazingly easy recipes at Susan Filson’s blog, stickygooeycreamychewy.com.

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