healthy option

Having recently turned 30 (actually, it feels like it was recently, but it was a while ago now), I have noticed that a number of things about me are changing. The one that annoys me the most is my physical condition. I was never one to practice sports, or to be very active at all, until a few years ago when I finally discovered how wonderful exercise is and what a difference it makes to my life. However, it is really easy to get into a work routine where you don’t have the time to do anything, and when you do, well, you don’t really feel like exercising. This keeps happening to me – I have no self-discipline.

But being 30 kind of changes things; I am now out of breath when I climb the stairs to my office, and to my home. And that shouldn’t happen; not yet anyway. Therefore I am now doing something about it. Today I did my first C25K run. Twice. It felt like hell, but hopefully will pay off, I just need to keep it up.

I am complementing this with a healthier diet… or trying to. I want to keep baking as it is something I really enjoy doing, so I will allow myself that as a treat.

However, on my day-to-day I am trying to avoid treats. Unhealthy treats, that is. So I decided to make some granola bars, to avoid nibbling on biscuits between breakfast and lunch. I already keep a stash of fruit at the office, but fruit doesn’t really go with tea…

granola bars

granola bars

These are sweet and chewy, and will keep my stomach from rumbling too much.

They are adapted from an Ina Garten original. You can make as many variations of these as you’d like, here’s mine.

Granola Bars
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
2 cups porridge
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup linseed
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/3 cup barley malt syrup
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup prunes, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends – to help remove them after cooked.
Combine porridge, coconut and nuts in a bowl and pour into a baking tray (not the greased one) and put in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove and mix with the toasted wheat germ and seeds. Reduce the oven to 150 degrees C.
In a saucepan combine the sugar, butter, syrups, salt and vanilla and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously, then add to the porridge mix; stir well.
Add the dried fruits and wait for a few minutes for the mixture to cool down so that the chocolate chips don’t melt (I failed to do this, so my chips are half melted). Pour the chips in and mix well.
Pour into the prepared baking tray and press well with your fingers or a silicone spatula. Bake for 25-30 mins or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray for 30 mins. Use the parchment paper to remove from the tray, and place on a cooling rack until cool. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow to harden before cutting into rectangles.
Yields about 16 bars and will keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container.
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