Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Often I beg of you to not to call processed snack foods "healthy" and I talk about the difference in healthier junk food and out-and-out junk.  You may wonder, “Why is she picking on my Vitameatavegimin Muffins and Fiber Wonder Bars?” And while I kind of am, I also want you to be sure that when you are checking out the food label, you also look at the ingredient list.

If your fiber wonder bar looks like this:

Chicory root extract, chocolate chips with confectioners shellac (chocolate chips [Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Ethanol, Shellac, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil]), Rolled Oats, Crispy Rice (Rice Flour, Sugar Malt, Salt), Barley Flakes, High Maltose Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Canola Oil, Honey, Glycerin, Maltodextrin, Palm Kernel Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Nonfat Milk, Peanut Oil, Cocoa Processed with Alkalin, Natural Flavor, Baking Soda, Color Added, Almond Flour, Sunflower Meal, Wheat Flour, Mixed Tocopherols Added to Retain Freshness.

Ask yourself why, oh why, does it need SO many things you wouldn’t stock in your own kitchen. And if a food does contain ingredients you wouldn’t carry in your own kitchen, maybe it’s time to think about how your spice cabinet is being treated better than your body.

Introducing the Italian Love bar!

This, dear friends, is my favorite answer to pre-packaged, sugar-laden granola bars. And before you scream about the FAT or CARB levels, I want you to look at the ingredient list and how it would differ from that scary thing above:

Oats, prunes, dates, dried unsweetened coconut, raw almonds, raw sunflower seeds, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), almond butter, raw honey, hemp seeds, chia seeds, lemon peel, almond extract. OH YEAH!

Please notice besides the wee bit of natural honey, there are no added sugars. Plus there are no fiber additives (which means no embarrassing fiber-supplemented gaseous emissions). Even better is that of the stats (below) come without the enrichment of vitamins or minerals.

Italian Love Bars


• 2 cup Oatmeal, old fashioned, 100% whole grain, uncooked
• ½ cup, whole Almonds, raw and coarsely chopped
• 0.75 cup prunes, pitted
• 1/2 cup Dates, pitted
• 3 tablespoon Honey, raw
• 3 tablespoon Almond Butter
• 1 tablespoon Almond Extract
• 1/3 cup Coconut, unsweetened & shredded
• ¼ cup Sunflower Seeds, raw, hulled
• ¼ cup Pepitas, raw Pumpkin Seeds
• 2 tablespoon Hemp Seeds (No, this is not marijuana! REALLY!)
• 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
• 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds, White, Blanco Salvia
• 2 teaspoon Lemon peel (you can buy this but I prefer to use the fresh zest of one whole lemon).


• Disposable gloves
• Food Processor
• 9 X 9 Square baking pan
• Aluminum Foil


1 – Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place Oats and almonds on baking sheet and place into oven for approximately 10 minutes or until fragrant. I do this at a low temperature to keep from completely cooking out all of the beneficial components of the almonds. Set aside to cool.

2 - Line 9 X 9 Pan with Foil. You can also use a 9 X 13 pan, and fill in the extra space to form a wall with foil and square it off some.

3 – In food processor, combine dates, prunes, honey and almond butter. Mix til combined and well blended (will look like a goopy ball). Add almond extract and pulse a few more times to incorporate.

4 – In large bowl and using glove-covered hands, combine cooled oats and almonds with coconut, sunflower seeds, Pepitas, hemp seeds, chia and lemon peel.

5 – Add ooey-gooey wet mixture and use your hands to incorporate this into the oat mixture. Make sure it is evenly distributed. This is where having friends comes in handy as you can make them do the dirty work in exchange for some of the bars!

6 – Place mixture into prepared pan. Use small rolling pin, the side of a glass, or a small flat object to press the mixture firmly into the pan.

7 – Place pan in oven and warm to “fuse” for 10 minutes.

8 - Remove from oven and while it is still warm, I use the overhang of foil to briskly and swiftly lift bars out of pan and onto cutting board. Score/cut into ten (or 12) bars but leave it on board to cool.

9 – Place in individual snack baggies and store in fridge. Or, if you happen to have a food saver, you can use the heat crimping function to seal (but NOT vacuum) them into air-tight clear bags and then they do not require refrigeration!

When using mixture to make 10 bars, nutrition info per 1 bar serving:

These bars are one of my favorite on-the-go breakfasts and for my friend Stacy, pictured above with the ooey-gooey mess, she calls these bad boys lunch. It’s also not bad broken in have to make a lighter snack. With all that good stuff in there, this is definitely a food to love that loves you back! ~

For additional Country Tart granola ideas, along with more info on the ingredients used (and the thought process behind them) please check out:

Cherry Chocolate Granola Bars

Chocolate Date Granola Bars

Choco-Peanut Granola Bars

and Granola That's Better Than Candy

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