Back to school season can be challenging for parents as they struggle to find healthy snacks to add to packed lunches. It can be equally difficult for adults to take something nutritious to the office to avoid the donut shop. Solve those problems with this recipe – make your own nutritious and tasty treat.
Oats pack a powerful nutritional punch. As a wonderful source of energy they can help keep you going during your busy day and oats are high in cancer-preventing fiber and contain essential minerals and vitamins.
Add some nuts to intensify not only the nutritional value, but the flavor as well. The underused flax seeds, which have been cultivated for centuries, provide alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid and fiber. People have long recognized the benefits of using flaxseeds. Indeed, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseeds that in the 8th century he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume them.
The combination of fresh blueberries and dried fruit creates both texture and taste. The eggs help bind the ingredients of the squares together. The touches of honey, brown sugar and vanilla add just the right amount of sweetness. Be sure to pack some of these granola fruit squares as part of a healthy brown bag lunch or a great snack at school or the office.
Granola Fruit Squares
1 cup old-fashioned oats or quick oats, uncooked (not instant)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey, softened by placing the jar in a pan of water over low heat
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup combination raisins, dried cranberries and dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil and leave 2-inches of foil hanging over edges.
In large nonstick skillet over medium heat stir oats, nuts and seeds and toast for 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, in food processor, pulse mixture until coarse. Avoid making the mixture too fine.
In mixing bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Whisk until blended. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl combine oil, honey, sugar, vanilla and eggs and mix well. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Gently add oat mixture, fresh blueberries and dried fruit.
Lightly coat baking dish with cooking spray. Pour granola batter into dish and spread evenly. Bake until mixture is set, about 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool. Use overhanging foil to lift granola slab from baking dish to cutting board. Cut into desired size bars.
Makes approximately 16 squares.
Per serving: 198 calories, 10 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 25 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 77 mg sodium.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.
Photo Credit: American Institute for Cancer Research