Warning: Susan rant in 3…2…1…! Do you know why nutrition labels list sugar in grams? Because the average American has no idea how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon, or what their intake of sugar should be each day. Sugar is added to EVERYTHING you buy in a box or jar or can. It is highly addictive and the body literally craves it. In that sense, these companies are extremely intelligent; they know how to keep their customers coming back. Just 150 years ago, the average intake of sugar per day was 9 grams (and remember this was namely from natural sources).
So, how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon? Just 4. 4 grams. So when your nutrition label says the item has 8 grams of sugar PER SERVING, you are eating 2 teaspoons of sugar. 16 grams; you are eating 4 teaspoons of sugar. 24 grams; a whopping 6 teaspoons of sugar. (If you want more information on the subject of sugar I highly recommend watching “Sugar Coated” and “That Sugar Film”; two documentaries that tackle this issue.)
When I look at most labels for food that is designed for children, I honestly cringe. Companies target children with bright colors and fun animal characters and up the sugar content so kids literally scream for this stuff in the supermarket aisle. AND IT WORKS. And no wonder it does; our children are literally walking around on sugar-highs from what they’re consuming, so it’s no wonder that they want more, more, MORE!
I’m not saying I’m perfect, or my family, please do not get me wrong here. What I am saying is that I feel part of my job as a parent is to make informed decisions about what I put on my children’s plates. So, whenever possible, I choose to make their snacks and treats, and I always check the nutrition label before I buy. Yes, sometimes I pay a little more for a cereal sweetened with real fruit juice instead of sugar. It means I don’t buy fruit snacks for my children although they beg for them; we do buy fruit leather. I digress, I could go on and on, but I just wanted to give you my justification for why I choose to make these decisions for my family. Thanks for allowing me to rant.
Check out the average box of granola bars; a great on-the-go snack. Typically you are looking at 7-16 grams of sugar (this goes way up if they are chocolate coated). So, that small snack to get my son from breakfast to lunch usually ups his sugar intake per day 2-4 teaspoons. That’s just too much for me. So now we make them, and it is so easy!
I call these 3 Ingredient Granola Bars because it only takes 3 ingredients to make the base bar. From there, you can mix in whatever you would like.
- 2 cups of oats
- 1 cup of nut butter
- 1/4 cup of honey
On a side note I was super excited to find that our local winter farmers market has an oat guy, and I was able to get some wonderful organic oats! Use what you have available. Quick cooking oats work just fine.
I recommend 1/2 cup per additive that you choose to put in your bars. I had had mini chocolate chips and hazelnuts on hand so we added 1/2 cup of each.
Other great additives:
- Nuts (any kind)
- White chocolate chips
- Flax seed
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Other dried fruits
- Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger
And the list could go on!
Measure out your ingredients into a medium sized bowl. This is another great recipe for kiddos because there is no cooking involved!
I did microwave my peanut butter for 30 seconds to make it easier to work with.
Amaze your child with your awesome honey pouring skills!
Thoroughly mix your ingredients. Little hands work wonders.
Pour your mixture into a prepared 9×9 baking dish. I recommend lining the dish with parchment paper or plastic wrap for easy removal and clean up.
Press the mixture into your dish as evenly as possible. Then place the pan in in the freezer for an hour to allow mixture to solidify.
In the meantime, allow your child to lick the spatula!
After an hour remove pan from freezer and pop bars out of the dish onto a cutting board.
Cut square in half to make two large rectangles.
Then cut those rectangles into 6 bars each, making a total of 12 bars.
Catch your son stealing a bar while you’re trying to take pictures!
Individually wrap each bar in a small square of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Store your homemade granola bars in the fridge or freezer. I use a Rubbermaid container.
Be happy in the knowledge that your homemade granola bars are kid-approved and nutritious!
NUTRITION INFORMATION UPDATE!
Hey guys, it was brought to my attention that these granola bars may have more sugar than I am letting on. I want to make sure that I never mislead you in my posts! That is not my intention. As I’ve said from the start, this blog is intended to keep a record of what we’re doing to prepare for farm life, including our missteps along the way. You guys take time out of your busy days to check out what I’m doing, and for that I am eternally grateful!
As soon as it was brought to my attention, I ran to the kitchen, pulled out all my ingredients, and did some calculations on the sugar content of the bars. What my chicken-scratch above is showing is that the plain 3 Ingredient Bar has 7.6 grams of sugar. With the additives I put in (chocolate chips and hazelnuts), you’re looking at 9.16 grams of sugar per bar. Yes, this is on the low end of what a store-bought granola bar is going to give you. I apologize if I made it seem as though it would be even less. What I would like to point out is that this sugar content is coming from a more natural place. The majority comes from the honey in fact. I’d personally rather have my sugar come from bees than from other sources of fructose. I also feel the need to point out that I used organic oats and natural peanut butter, because this matters to me. Using other products may up the sugar content.
I think the 3 Ingredient Bar would be most closely related to a Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey bar. Yes, my 7.16/bar and their 6/bar sugar is relative. However, the ingredients matter here. They are adding sugar and brown sugar syrup, and of course preservatives; mine are free of these things. Yes, once you add chocolate chips or other items, this may not be the case, but it is in smaller amounts and not in the granola bar itself, just the additives.
This is a Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip bar label. Yes, the sugar grams may be similar again, however look at all the unnatural ways it was added to to the bar. Not the mention, the extensive list of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
My personal goal is to provide my children with healthier all-around alternatives. So I will stick to making my granola bars and smiling when my child tells me, “Mommy, this is the best granola bar I ever ate!”
Again, I apologize if this misled anyone, and I hope this clears up any confusion!